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Think the oceans are too big that we’ll never poison them? Some people describe apparently futile projects as “boiling the ocean” as if it’s impossible to put enough heat into the ocean to make it boil. The problem is that we, collectively, are putting enough crap into the ocean to poison it, and the effects are already apparent. Unfortunately most of the ocean is invisible – the part that’s underwater – except to Oceanographers. That means it’s up to the Scientists to let us know what’s going on. But that means leaving their safe academic circles.

One Scientist, Jeremy Jackson, with a huge scientific pedigree, as presented at the beginning of this talk, has come to the Naval War College to talk with the assembled Admirals about the Ocean as a Source of Everything. We conceptualize the Ocean as like a Highway, carrying ships from place to place, but without the Ocean we wouldn’t have anything because healthy oceans are the source of all life on this planet.

He started by presenting Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, as having presented these three questions. But change the “DDT” portion of the question, and the questions can be applied in many areas. Carson’s book focused on the overuse of DDT and the huge problems coming from that chemical, and the attention put on DDT eventually resulted in the banning of DDT. In the U.S. But of course there are other chemicals of concern, and the number of those chemicals is growing every year, and just banning DDT did not solve the whole problem.

Jackson did not say it directly, but the fundamental nature of the system must change.

He rephrased Carson’s questions this way, generalizing them so they can apply to any chemical or other environmental influence.

These two slides show the state of Fishing Grounds in the North Atlantic. Overfishing caused the collapse of fisheries all along the North Atlantic, and those fisheries formerly fed a large part of the world as well as employed a lot of people. All through the presentation he’s showing similar data about the collapse of ecosystems throughout the oceans.

One result is the growing number of dead zones in oceans around the world. These dead zones are primarily due to agricultural runoff feeding an explosion of phytoplankton in the ocean. And a part of that problem is the creatures that would normally eat phytoplankton, the filter feeders, ergo Oysters, have been overfished everywhere because of the attraction of eating Oysters.

The ‘economic miracles’ of China and Brazil are expected to create huge dead zones.

Dead zones aren’t exactly dead, there are large growth of jellyfish. That’s reversing a half billion years of ecological development.

What did I say earlier about boiling the ocean? It’s happening, but we’re acting like that apocraphyl story about how to boil a frog. The truth is that frogs are smart enough to jump out when the water gets too warm. We’re the dumb ones.

Ice caps melting is a done deal – that’s not reversible.

This shows changes in the ocean floor near from decreasing fish populations, and what happens to the ocean.

It’s a bad time to be a Coral.

The ocean used to have a healthy ecosystem full of plants and animals that kept each other in balance. All that’s being killed, and slime will take over.

This is our near-term future, and it’s not a theorization. Instead the effects being predicted are based on scientific data gathering by institutes like Scripps and Woods Hole.

The predictions by the IPCCC are happening faster than the models predicted.

It’s not just the oceans. He mentioned California, and how we depend on glacier melt for water but no longer have permanent glaciers. Instead we’re having year after year of drought, where the winter rains are less than they used to be, and the state is pondering spending billions of dollars on new reservoirs to hold water throughout the summers.

Humans like to build cities and expensive stuff like airports and highways next to the oceans. Sea level rise is a given, and it’s debatable whether it will be limited to 1.5 meters. Also, sea level rise won’t be a slow drip, but will arrive in the form of massive storms with massive storm surges. It’s not clear whether the number of storms in total will increase, but the number of extreme storms will increase.

The question is whether it’s worth rebuilding these places when they’re just going to be destroyed by storm surges.

There is not enough insurance money in the world to rebuild Miami or New Orleans etc.

What can we do? First step – simplest – sustainable fishing practices. Just enforce the laws that exist, and make them stronger.

Second step – work on the farming system. Permaculture would be great, though he doesn’t mention it.

Third step – eliminate fossil fuels, and switch completely to renewable. Ergo – the stuff on this website.

We’re in a big mess, but it’s hard to see it. As I said above, the effects in the ocean are largely under the surface, and people tend to think the oceans are so big we’ll never be able to boil the ocean.

Source: ( U.S. Naval War College

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About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.
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