Our three options with the oceans might come down to ‘migration, adaptation or extinction’

This article is from August 2013. This one is from yesterday. (In more positive news, this is also from yesterday, and puts a lot of the ocean warming discussion into proper context — namely, that the newest studies provide incrementally rich data, but where they fit in the broader scope of everything related to the oceans isn’t clear.)

Despite that third link providing some much-needed calming, it’s fairly clear that the oceans are warming, although perhaps not at a ‘run-for-the-hills-now-and-gather-your-belongings’ level. You can almost think of the oceans like a person: if you put enough bad shit into it, and treat it improperly, eventually its health will decline. The Washington Post tackled the issue of overfishing this week as well; fisheries management does seem to be improving in places such as Iceland, the U.S., Australia, etc. There’s the possibility of “The End of Fish” but the general view is less alarmist.

This post was written in 2010; sadly, it ends with the assertion that the BP oil spill should have served as a wake-up call about pollutants running from land to sea. I don’t fully believe it has. Before writing this post, I had no idea who really has legal responsibility for the seas; they are 70 percent of our planet, so it seems like that should be clearly defined. This UN link begins to explain it. The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea seemed to put a lot of stuff in play, although it’s still uncertain if the convention actually codifies international law. The IMO does some of the enforcing.

I’m still honestly not sure who has the ultimate responsibility for cleaning up the seas, although a 19-year-old did develop a concept to rid the ocean of 7.2 million tons of plastic. This site here lists some of the key threats to the oceans, along with potential solutions. Some people believe “marine reserves” — the marine equivalent of national parks — would be our best bet to avoid ultimate catastrophe of the sea; currently, one such proposal for the Antarctic is on hold. Greenpeace is aiming for 40 percent of the world’s oceans to be classified as marine reserves; currently it’s less than 1 percent.

This is a solid list of 10 ways you can help save the ocean; the crux of it is more responsible choices with regard to plastics, jewelry, seafood consumption, and littering. For a deep look (I tried desperately to avoid saying ‘deep dive’) into ocean protection, check this link.

We clearly need to save the oceans; while it may not affect the current generations living on Earth, it could become a rather serious problem within 100 years or sooner. While I’m not sure the oceans could someday represent fiery cauldrons, they are going to keep absorbing heat (as that’s what they do), and the heat will rise (slowing global warming in a way, but creating a host of additional problems). Point is, we actually need to deal with this — as the opening of this video notes, many people do look at the ocean as water. Incorrect. It’s actually a living system that gives us half the oxygen we breathe, regulates the climate, provides seafood, and creates new opportunities for society. 

There could be hope for the future, but much of it relies on us. Let’s do this thing, for future generations and for the health of our planet. (Didn’t mean to end that as cheesily as I did, but reading and watching all this stuff got me thinking more. And another thought to conclude on — do you ever stop and think how weird it is that 70 percent of our world is made up of something that’s 92 percent unexplored/unmapped, while 70 percent of our universe is made of something we’re not even truly sure exists? We’re really just specks here, but yet, we have so much influence over how the oceans end up. It’s really kind of fascinating. Alright, I’m done now.)

Ted Bauer