Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

human shadows on our oceans 01 Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

Scientists from several institutions around the world just released a report showing that roughly 40% of all oceans – deep water and areas in and around coastlines – are highly impacted by humans. Hardly a revelation, right? (I’m giving this one a 10 on the “No Duh!” scale.) What really took me by surprise is the fact that this information is just now being published.

To their credit, the scientists have been compiling data from 17 different data streams – a very tricky enterprise – that include shipping, fishing, pollution, temperature changes, acidification (from excess CO2), and invasive species. The good news is that 4% of the oceans rated as “pristine”; the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans remain intact. But as global temperatures rise and fish stocks decline, we’ll probably have a negative impact there as well. Maybe we’ll even engineer corn that will grow in both salt water and snow.

human shadows on our oceans 04 Ominous Shadows on Our Oceans

Check out an interactive map showing the impacts, here.

So, what does it all mean? You guessed it; we’ve mucked up perhaps the single most life sustaining resource on this planet, and the impact is greater that someone who crunches data all day had originally believed. If you believe Darwin like I do, you know that at some point in humans’ dark past, some creature crawled out of the sea and made his home on terra firma. That’s probably why humans are made up of about 75% salt water.

The real question that we must ask: “Can we fix the oceans in time to save them and save ourselves?” Depending on which scientist you talk to you will either get the “doomsday” or the “there’s hope” version of the ending. Stay tuned.

(via New York Times)

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