Quantcast

Paul Watson: If the Ocean Dies, We Die!

Climate

If the ocean dies, we all die. Why?

A few people have asked me to explain just why it is that humanity will die if the ocean dies.

Billions of people depend upon the ocean for food and I'm not talking about restaurants, sushi bars and fish markets in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo or Sydney. I'm talking about extremely poor people whose lives actually depend upon catching fish.

We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga

But food being taken from the ocean is the least of the factors that will kill us.

The ocean is the life support system for the planet, providing 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and regulating climate. The ocean is also the pump that allows us to have fresh water. It is the driving force, along with the sun, of the global circulation system that transports water from the land to the sea to the atmosphere and back to the land again.

Plankton—the most important group of plants and animal species on the planet (excluding bacteria). Plankton populations have been diminished by 40 percent since 1950, yet there is now commercial exploitation by Norwegian and Japanese fishing corporations to extract millions of tons of plankton for conversion to a protein-rich animal feed.

Every year 65 billion animals are slaughtered to feed humans and some 40 percent of all the fish caught are converted to fishmeal to feed pigs, chickens, domestic salmon, fur-bearing animals and cat food. With fish populations diminishing, the corporations are looking to replace fishmeal with a plankton paste.

Is cheap fishmeal for domestic animals worth robbing the planet of our oxygen supplies?

Where does oxygen come from? Some 50 percent comes from the forest that we are rapidly cutting down. The rest comes from the sea.

Some of this oxygen is produced by seaweeds and sea grasses, but the vast majority of the oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, microscopic single-celled organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. These tiny creatures live at the surface layer of the ocean (and in lakes and rivers) and form the very base of the aquatic food chain.

During photosynthesis, phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from sea water and release oxygen. The carbon becomes part of their bodies.

Providing oxygen and sequestering carbon dioxide is the major contribution of plankton, along with forming the foundation for the entire oceanic food chain.

The fish- and animal-killing industries are robbing the seas of oxygen production for short-term profits.

This is one of the things that most likely will not be discussed at the climate change conference in Paris in two months.

Other factors diminishing plankton are acidification from excessive carbon dioxide, pollution, habitat destruction and the radical diminishment of whale populations.

The whales are the primary species that fertilize the phytoplankton. For example, one blue whale defecates three tons of nitrogen and iron-rich feces a day, providing nutrients to the phytoplankton. In return the phytoplankton feed the zooplankton, the fishes and ultimately everything that lives in the sea.

In order to restore phytoplankton populations we need to restore whale populations and we need to abolish the industrialized exploitation of biodiversity in the ocean. We also need to have governments end all subsidization of commercial fishing operations.

The reality is that there are simply not enough fish in the sea to continue to feed an ever-expanding human population. It is a simple concept to understand—more humans eating fish, directly or indirectly (i.e. fishmeal), contributes to further diminishment of fish.

This diminishment means diminished supplies, resulting in increased subsidization to provide more efficient technology to extract even more of the diminishing supplies. Unless the subsidies are cut, this diminishment will result in collapse. I call this the “economics of extinction."

There must be a global moratorium on all industrialized fishing. And there must be a global cessation on the killing of whales. We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea in order to address climate change and diminishment of phytoplankton oxygen production.

Will it cost profits? Absolutely. Will it costs jobs? Absolutely. But are jobs and profits really worth destroying the planet's life support system?

Strangely, to many of the world's politicians, the answer to that question is yes.

The solutions to climate change are simple but, unfortunately, the solutions are not what anyone will be discussing in Paris in two months, at least not at the gathering of world leaders.

The solutions are:

  1. An end to the ecologically destructive greenhouse-gas-producing animal slaughter industry that emits more greenhouse gases annually than the entire transportation industry.
  2. A global moratorium on all industrialized fishing operations.
  3. An end to the killing of whales by anyone, anywhere for any reason.

The collapse of ocean biodiversity and the catastrophic collapse of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in the sea will cause the collapse of civilization and most likely the extinction of the human species.

And that is why when the ocean dies, we all die!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Supermoon Sparked Rhino Killing Spree as Poaching Numbers Skyrocket

25% of Fish Sold at Markets Contain Plastic or Man-Made Debris

700 Beehives Hang Off This Rocky Cliff to Boost Dwindling Bee Populations

13 Best Tweets Celebrating Shell Abandoning Arctic Drilling

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum.

Read More Show Less
Water protectors of all persuasions gathered in talking circles at Borderland Ranch in Pe'Sla, the heart of the sacred Black Hills, during the first Sovereign Sisters Gathering. At the center are Cheryl Angel in red and white and on her left, Lyla June. Tracy Barnett

By Tracy L. Barnett

Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.

For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden. All photos courtesy of Lisson Gallery

By Patrick Rogers

"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."

Read More Show Less
BruceBlock / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Thanks to their high concentration of powerful plant compounds, foods with a natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jessica Kourkounis / Stringer

The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

Pixabay

By Manuella Libardi

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY / THE OCEAN AGENCY

Hope may be on the horizon for the world's depleted coral reefs thanks to scientists who successfully reproduced endangered corals in a laboratory setting for the first time, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less