Are the oceans on a collision course?

Date: June 7, 2012

Source: Mother Jones

Author: Tim Philpott

Back in 2006, a team of scientists from Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Panama published a landmark reportin the prestigious journal Science on the state of the oceans. The researchers highlighted what they called an “ongoing erosion of diversity” in sea life that, if left unchecked, would lead to the “collapse of all taxa currently being fished by the mid-21st century.”

Stripped of scientese, what the report described was the real possibility of the ocean as a vast, fetid gray zone, not quite dead but no longer able to provide a significant amount of food to humanity. And not in some unimaginably distant future, but rather in just four short decades, around the time when your aughts-era infant will reach middle age.

When the report dropped, it grabbed attention in the eco-foodie world like a great white shark sunning its dorsal fin in the shallows off a crowded beach. I was just beginning to write about food politics at the time, and the Science study jolted me from my land-locked fixations and opened the ocean as a rich and urgent topic.

Not only do the oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet, but they’re also home to 90 percent of the planet’s living biomass.

Snuffing out their astonishing biodiversity would have unpredictable consequences for we creatures who dwell on the earth’s relatively rare swaths of dry land.

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