Year 2, Month 7, Day 12: Where Is The Sub-Mariner When You Really Need Him?

The ocean is changing, much faster than anyone expected. The SkyValley Chronicle (WA) brings the news:

(NATIONAL) — What does a large gray whale found in the water off an the Israeli town last year have to do with microscopic plankton found recently in the North Atlantic where it had not existed for at least 800,000 years?

Everything, say scientists who now think the whale and the plankton are linked harbingers of a massive migration of species through the Northwest Passage, and a clear and troubling signal of how global warming is affecting animals and plants in the oceans as well as on land.

A new report in MSNBC quotes a scientist in Great Britain as saying the implications of this migration are “enormous,” because a threshold has been crossed — and that alone is an indication of the speed of change that is taking place across the planet because of climate change.

I had no idea it was going to happen this fast.

Sent June 26:

Seen in isolation, each one of these reports seems almost inconsequential. One whale more or less; a few billion plankton where they have no business being — it’s hardly enough to attract our attention, distracted as we are by the latest celebrities du jour. Perhaps that’s a good thing for our short-term mental health; watching the catastrophic breakdown of planetary ecosystems is going to be very stressful. And the most important thing our media can do is to keep us free from any but the most transitory stresses, right?

Ecologies hundreds of thousands of years old are destroyed in a geological eye-blink by the encroachments of our civilization and its waste. Those anomalous whales and plankton are climate refugees, desperately seeking survival in an ocean whose condition is daily more parlous. And they are harbingers of humanity’s future, unless we find the will and the wit to change our ways.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 6: La Mer? Merde!

The ghastly news in the IPSO report on our oceans has brought forth a number of articles. Time magazine notes:

But while news of the Earth’s impending doom can sometimes seem exaggerated, there’s one environmental disaster that never gets the coverage it really deserves: the state of the oceans. Most people know that wild fisheries are dwindling, and we might know that low-oxygen aquatic dead zones are blooming around the planet’s most crowded coasts. But the oceans appear to be undergoing fundamental changes — many of them for the worse — that we can barely understand, in part because we barely understand that vast blue territory that covers 70% of the globe.

That’s the conclusion of a surprising new report issued by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), a global panel of marine experts that met earlier this year at Oxford University to examine the latest science on ocean health. That health, they found, is not good. According to the authors, we are “at high risk for entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.” It’s not just about overfishing or marine pollution or even climate change. It’s all of those destructive factors working cumulatively, and occurring much more rapidly than scientists had expected. “The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, the scientific director of IPSO. “We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

Lots of stuff about the ocean now, but not as much as I get when I ask for information on Anthony Weiner’s junk. Sigh.

Sent June 21:

As a kid growing up in America’s turbulent 60s, I remember vividly a certain man on television who was universally respected and trusted. And I don’t mean Walter Cronkite. Reading about the IPSO report on the terrifying decline in the health of our planet’s oceans reminded me of the late Jacques Cousteau. Remembering the diminutive Frenchman who showed us all the beauties of the undersea world, I wonder: what would he say about the acidified seas, bleached corals, ravaged fisheries and polluted ecosystems that humanity has left in its wake? After a few unprintable Gallicisms, I’m sure he’d embark on an activist campaign to persuade the world’s industrialized nations that it was time for them to show genuine leadership on climate change and carbon emissions. Long ago this eloquent and passionate explorer spoke to our current condition, saying “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”

Warren Senders