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oceans in a bad way « Previous | |Next »
June 21, 2011

A report from the International Programme on the State of the Oceans makes for sobering reading.

sea abstract
Gary Sauer-Thompson, sea abstract, Victor Harbor, 2010

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, Mass extinction of species will be "inevitable" if current trends continue due to the actions human beings. The report states that:

Although concealed beneath the waves, the evidence of wholesale degradation and destruction of the marine realm is clear, made manifest by the collapse of entire fisheries and the growth of deoxygenated dead zones, for example. The cumulative result of our actions is a serial decline in the ocean’s health and resilience; it is becoming demonstrably less able to survive the pressures exerted upon it, and this will become even more evident as the added pressures of climate change exacerbate the situation.

It adds that without significant changes in the policies that influence human interactions with the marine environment, the current rate of ecosystem change and collapse will accelerate and direct consequences will be felt by all societies.

On climate change the report says that:

The increase of anthropogenic co2 in the atmosphere represents a direct threat to all marine ecosystems through changes in ocean temperature, sea level rise, decreased sea ice cover, increased frequency of extreme events such as coral bleaching and storms, increased stratification of the ocean – altering patterns of ocean mixing, lowered oxygen levels and increased risks of eutrophication in coastal waters. The ocean naturally absorbs co2 from the atmosphere as one of its earth System services but the excess overload now being absorbed is altering the natural chemical balance of the sea and leading to an increase in its acidity. This is a direct threat to marine organisms that build their skeletons out of calcium carbonate, especially reef-forming corals (Scleractinia).

You can see why there is such an emphasis on The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is under threat from both global warming (it causes bleaching) and nutrient enrichment or eutrophication from the chemical pollutants in the fertilizer used by the coastal agriculture and waste treatment plants.

The reef is just not the marine ecosystem --its also a tourism and fishing industry that is worth billions to Australia’s economy -- and yet you rarely hear people like Paul Howes or Tony Abbott talking about protecting these jobs by making the polluters pay for the damage they have caused. Presumably their message is that there is no need to worry because the adaptive qualities of coral reefs would mitigate the effects of climate change.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:43 AM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

The practitioners of climate anti-science---and that includes Quadrant --- would claim that peer review is used to enforce groupthink and that science is not to be trusted.

The corporate front groups and free market think tanks have worked so hard in the last two decades to spread confusion about climate science (in in the IPCC 2001 reports) and to block public policy that would regulate the use of fossil fuels.

In the US these are the George C. Marshall Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heartland Institute.

In Australia you would need to include the Institute of Public Affairs in the noisy anti-science PR campaign.

Anti-science is employed when research results threaten strong economic or ideological interests. It is rarely intended to convince field professionals, but to confuse the public and especially decision-makers in government and business.

John R. Mashey says that the tactics deployed by the anti-science campaign machine have been modelled on those developed by the Tobacco Industry.

The approach is classic science bypass – get quotes from authoritative-sounding sources and distribute to a large public audience to create doubt and delay. The tactics include:

 The evidence is still inconclusive.
 Something other than smoking may be responsible.
 Statistical evidence can‘t be trusted.
 It‘s all a scare campaign.
 The issue is too complicated, even for scientists.
 Nit-picking at irrelevant details.
 More research is necessary.

The main addition in recent years has been an increase in personal attacks of various kinds, amplified by the internet, on scientists.

Vested interests often put a lot of effort into lobbying the politicians to do nothing. They use the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) principle to influence their politicians. They often gain more benefit from maintaining the old models for as long as possible.