Scientists blame lack of political will for death of oceans

August 14th, 2008 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 14 (IANS) Scientists blamed “lack of political will and greed of special interests” for the gradual death of oceans and outlined a slew of immediate steps to reverse the process. Some of these measures include establishing marine reserves, enforcing fishing regulations, limiting fossil fuel consumption, removal of fertiliser subsidies, implementing aquaculture and establishing local conservation measures.

In 2001, Jeremy Jackson, scientist emeritus of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and 18 co-authors, published a landmark paper in Science which stated that environments perceived as relatively pristine have, in fact, been radically altered by centuries of human exploitation.

He predicted that overfishing will lead to extinction of edible species and have an indirect effect on other levels of the food chain. Larger dead zones and toxic algal blooms may merge along the coastal zones of all of the continents. Disease outbreaks will increase. Vertical mixing of ocean waters may be inhibited resulting in disrupted nutrient cycles.

“We have to begin somewhere,” said Jackson. He reviewed a series of studies that bolster initial observations that exploitation and pollution of estuaries and coastal seas, coral reef ecosystems, continental margins and the open ocean continue unabated.

Earlier, Jackson had singled out “our amnesia about what is natural is the greatest threat to the environment”, in the youTube version of his talk “The State of the Ocean”, delivered in Vermont.

“Some may say that it is irresponsible to make such predictions pending further detailed study… However, we will never be certain about every detail, and it would be irresponsible to remain silent in the face of what we already know,” he said.

The findings appeared this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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