Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:
It is probable that every major ecological pillar however tenuously stabilizing the structure of the oceans is crumbling. Although some endangered fish populations and coral reef systems are being protected and restored, the seas overall are in deep shit. Overfishing and pollution are reducing biodiversity by killing-off larges swaths of ocean life. The destruction of vast marine habitats will have catastrophic repercussions for humanity. [According to some earth scientists, oceanic ecocide poses a greater threat to the existence of humanity than climate change. Higher global temperature averages which melt icecaps and glaciers will lead to higher sea levels and the inundation of a plethora of coastal industries, cities, and urban centers that are responsible for contributing to environmental destruction and the mass production of excessive, heat-trapping, carbon-dioxide emissions. As in times of major economic depressions or financial stagnation, the inundation of coastal megalopolises will result in a decrease of industrial activity which may subsequently benefit nature as a whole (until industrial activity is resumed), but would have horrible consequences for humanity, especially for those hundreds of millions of impoverished coastal inhabitants who already live in deprivation, and who would become environmental refugees in the event of a significant increase in sea levels. (Click here to view an interactive map from National Geographic which depicts how coastlines would change if all glaciers and icecaps on Earth were to melt.)]
Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but human beings have caused a lot of trouble for life in the world’s oceans. The process in which the destruction of sea life occurs is largely two-fold. Large-scale destructive events like oil spills (Deepwater Horizon) and nuclear power plant disasters (Fukushima) can cause serious damage to the affected aquatic areas. Damage from such disasters is often immediately evident, such as the deformed and eyeless fish and shrimp that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or the dying sea lions pups and seals with bleeding lesions that have washed up on beaches in California and Alaska the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown. Yet as grave and harmful as they are, explosive, headline-making disasters are less deleterious to life in the seas than the cumulative, synergistic effects of routine human activities such as oceanic commerce, commercial fishing, and pollution. For example, a 2002 study by the National Academy of the Sciences found that the 85 percent of the 29 million gallons of marine oil pollution originating from North America derives from runoff from cars and oil-based machines and accessories (like lawnmowers and household robots) – and the sum of these tiny releases of oil, carried into the ocean by streams and storm drains, is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez oil spill every eight months. [As additional food for thought: there are apparently 90,000 cargo ships in the world.