Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Republicans Seek to Protect their Lobster Dinners

Ted Danson with Michael D’Onse. Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them. New York, N.Y.: Rodale, 2011.

This book was on the dangers to our oceans. Offshore drilling is threatening oceanic species, including many of the fish we consume. 90% of “big fish” species have disappeared over the last 60 years.

Of all of the living space on Earth, 1% is one land and 99% is in water. Aquatic life is threatened by human activities. For example, chemical runoff into Lake Erie has made is such aquatic life can’t survive. Despite famous oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and the 171 million gallon spill in 2010 into the Gulf of Mexico, we have been slow to have a sustained reaction that creates better protections of our waters.

The U.S. is the largest petroleum consumer, urging (in 2008) 19.5 million barrels of petroleum daily, followed by China at 7.8 million barrels.

“Minor” mishaps spill 15 million gallons of oil annually in North America. In addition, toxic chemicals used in the drilling process place 90,000 tons of toxins in the lifetime of a rig into the water, as measured by rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The book recommends decreasing fossil fuel consumption, less vehicle driving, more mass transit use, more electric or hybrid vehicles, and fewer petroleum based cosmetics.

Oxygen levels, required for aquatic life, are decreasing in oceans. The levels besides southern California have fallen almost 20% over the past quarter century. A fifth of the oceans are oxygen dead zones.

The ocean’s ability to process carbonic acidity is decreasing. This is killing aquatic life. Almost 30% of all tropical reefs have disappeared in the last three decades. This upsets the ecosystem as about a quarter of all marine life relies on the coral reefs.

Overfishing is occurring. It is feared we could lose many of the fish species we consume within decades. The numbers of sharks have decreased by 90% and cod 70%. The authors call for an end to high seas fishing by bottom trawling which captures more than intended.

The damaged ecosystem is seen to be afflicted with more diseases, infections, and parasites affecting aquatic life. The author call for scientifically determined fishing limits, ending fisheries subsidies, and penalizing catching the wrong fish species.


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