A couple of weeks ago on May 17 we heard and saw Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Jeremy Jackson talk about and show us the shockingly overfished, overheated, and polluted state of our oceans today and how they have been so for long before BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, with indicators that things will get much worse.
Though he’s been a contract photojournalist for National Geographic Magazine since 1998, Brian Skerry has spent the past three decades telling the stories of the ocean. His images portray not only the aesthetic wonder of the ocean but display an intense journalistic drive for relevance.
In another TED talk posted only a couple of days ago Skerry “brings to light the many pressing issues facing our oceans and its inhabitants. Typically spending eight months of the year in the field, he often faces extreme conditions to capture his subjects. He has lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats and dived beneath the Arctic ice to get his shot. He has spent over 10,000 hours underwater.”
Spend 16 minutes with Skerry here and let him share some of his stories of the oceans and show you more of the beauty and natural treasures our society seems so bent on wrecking and losing.
Over the past few weeks since the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe has put the oceans and the environment at the center of our consciousness again, we’ve been hearing a lot about what the oil leak is doing to the Gulf of Mexico.
We need to end the hidden government subsidies for fossil fuels and make sure their true cost, including climate change, is built into them.
Moreover, we should be generating electricity from alternative sources or natural gas (of which we have a lot) and then moving to electric and hybrid automobiles. (Natural gas burns cleaner than petroleum or coal and is probably a necessary bridge fuel to the alternatives). Going to electric vehicles powered by natural gas, wind and solar plants would be cheaper than rebuilding all the gas stations in the country. Coal should be banned altogether and its use made a hanging crime.
And, we should be matching every penny of the cost of the Gulf clean-up with a huge government Manhattan project on solar energy.
The environmental and economic costs of the oil spill are enormous, but they are tiny compared to the costs of actually burning the oil and spilling more masses of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If you’re not alarmed about your future, it is because you have bought the cover-up of climate change, just as Obama bought a cover-up when he believed what he was told about the unlikelihood of oil spills from ocean platforms.
But something else which should probably be concerning us all is the condition our oceans are in, and have been in for many years, even prior to the oil gusher. We live in a much smaller and more fragile world than we tend to think we do, and our decades long mistreatment of our environment, our rivers, lakes and oceans, the dwindling fish and large ocean mammal populations are all very serious concerns.
Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Painting pictures of changing marine environments, particularly coral reefs and the Isthmus of Panama, Jackson’s research captures the extreme environmental decline of the oceans that has accelerated in the past 200 years.
Jackson’s current work focuses on the future of the world’s oceans, given overfishing, habitat destruction and ocean warming, which have fundamentally changed marine ecosystems and led to “the rise of slime.” Although Jackson’s work describes grim circumstances, even garnering him the nickname Dr. Doom, he believes that successful management and conservation strategies can renew the ocean’s health.
In this 18 minute talk from TED.com, Professor Jackson lays out the shocking state of our ocean today: overfished, overheated, polluted, with indicators that things will get much worse.
Both the National Hurricane Center and the Colorado State University forecast team founded by Dr. Bill Gray are forecasting above normal Atlantic hurricane seasons. The NHC is predicting 12-16 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, 2-5 major hurricanes and an “ACE” range 100%-210% of the median. CSU is predicting (PDF) 15 (avg. 9.6) named storms, 8 (avg. 5.9) hurricanes, 4 (avg. 2.3) intense hurricanes and a “NTC” 160% of average.
Climate models had predicted that the heat content of the oceans would rise faster than the data were showing. A recent correction of the data set revealed that sea levels and oceanic heat content were rising 50% faster than previously determined.
The oceans have been growing warmer and sea levels have been rising at a faster rate than previously estimated, researchers reported. A review of millions of measurements over the past four decades revealed a subtle error, they said; after correcting it, they found that sea levels rose two inches from 1961 to 2003 – about 50 percent greater than previous estimates. Experts familiar with the work said the finding, published in the journal Nature, added credence to computer simulations predicting centuries of rising seas from human-caused global warming.
Let’s just get that out of the way right now, because after you finish reading this you’ll be going ‘wow, thanks, moneysmith, this is great. You rock!’ Seriously. You will. Because I have a feeling a lot of us are at the end of our proverbial ropes, which by now are so frayed they look more like worn-out drawstrings on a pair of ten-year-old sweatpants than the nice, thick, resilient ropes they once were.
Ready for more? Walk this way (it’s all in the hips, really not that hard) …