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Posted by wmmbb in Natural Environment.

As the oceans die, so does the planet. Yet in Australia, we are not moving positively towards a non-carbon economy. Do we imagine we are not part of the global climate system?

The major problems with the oceans seem to be pollution, the effects of climate change, in particular acidification and depletion of oxygen, and over fishing, thus the loss of biodiversity and disruption to the ecology.

Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor, for The Independent writes:

The coming together of these factors is now threatening the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history”, according to the report, from a panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford earlier this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The stark suggestion made by the panel is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish at one end of the scale to tiny corals at the other, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world’s life died out. They range from the Ordovician-Silurian “event” of 450 million years ago, to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction of 65 million years ago, which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs. The worst of them, the event at the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, is thought to have eliminated 70 per cent of species on land and 96 per cent of all species in the sea.

The panel consisted of 27 marine scientists who concluded that rate of deterioration was worse than expected with consequences that will be seen by many alive now, but certainly by the children of today. Politicians may well have short term agendas for purposes of expediency, as may certain interests dependent on fossil fuels, but those agendas do not serve the common good.

Any paradigm that does not include global responsibility and connectedness is simply nonsense, particularly in regard to the effects of the climate crisis. What planet are they from and where do they intend to travel? And good luck with that.

To quote Professor Ross Garnaut, an economist (and who by the way also says that economists by training are able to confirm the statistics):

The outsider to climate science has no rational choice but to accept on the balance of probabilities, the mainstream science is right in pointing to high risks from unmitigated climate change.

Of course, if you were to accept that choices are limited now, given the mounting evidence, and serious scientific investigation of more than forty years, in some broom cupboards, or closets of closed minds, that apparently would make a person an extremists, even a Nazi.

The problem here is not the scientific paradigm, since the understanding of climate system is based applying existing scientific values and methods, but rather it is the political paradigm. To make sense of the opponents of climate change is that they are arguing that the existing or idealized form of the dominant economic system is environmentally sustainable, or their refusal to accept either that it is not, or even perhaps it cannot be.


1. peter - June 23, 2011

I was writing my blog “The oceans die: killed by Homo insania- human folly” on this subject instead of reading yours. Still, now is the time for action. I agree with you it is no longer possible to pretend the world’s leaders are actually doing much about this.
As I ask:
So what will you do about this tomorrow? Forget it? Nothing because you did not read this blog? Or perhaps you like sediment loads, toxic algae blooms, oxygen depleted or dead zones and jelly fish depriving other species of plankton, the essential ocean food?

wmmbb - June 23, 2011

Thanks for that Peter. What can we do? I try to do some things but I am not doing enough.

1. We can envisage a non-carbon future. For example, how might the power for one household be generated by existing technologies. And then to consider the economics of spreading the effect over a number of households. What would it mean to have non-carbon public transport?

2. We can learn from what other people do. For example, people have set up systems by which bikes are made available from a common bank. I do not know the details. For short trips, for many people, although not for all, bikes could work.

3. We can change our behaviors. For example,. by minimizing our use of carbon-based vehicles. I do not want to suggest that people become vegans, but we can not eat fish, but that will not solve the problem of over-fishing. Diet is one area, but it is a larger cultural issue.

4. We look more at recycling. It is easy to put stuff in a skip bin and from there I don’t know what happens to it. We can follow up with packaging and other options directly with the suppliers, including imported goods, and making sure that the ships that brought them did not pollute the ocean, because presumably that is at least a source of ocean pollution.

And so on. There are small scale behavioral changes we can make with demonstration effects. Hopefully people reflect when they see my walking along the street with backpack of fruit and vegetables. They might thing that is good exercise for old fella. The real change requires large scale changes, such as cleaning the ocean pollution by stopping runoff and by garbage removal. Acidification of oceans, as I understand the situation, is a vicious cycle created by carbon pollution, for a commitment is required to protect the global commons. So how is that to be done? Go back to point one and let’s envisage that happening and try and work through how that might be done. One problem is that we as the human race have less time now than we had twenty or thirty years ago. We have relatively more information about the problems, although some would like to cast doubt upon them, than we do about the solutions.

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