As I watched the diver swim below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, I saw a shark struggling in the mixture of oil blobs, dispersants and filmy sheen, while everywhere else there was no sign of life. I wondered what happens when the fish are gone. The answer: Nothing good. But basically the cause is too many people and not enough resources, which produces disastrous consequences for humans and everything else. And if we keep destroying the resources we have, our future will read like a page right out of Revelation. And soon.
Those who predict the future of planet earth are becoming quite concerned. For example, food, water and oil will become scarce due to an exploding population that will demand basic things that won’t be available. That could happen within the next two decades, according to the chief scientist for Great Britain, since all of the factors are setting up for the perfect storm.
But the clear and present danger is, of course, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent massive oil leak that, so far, no one has been able to stop. It is the most visible event in an assault on the oceans of the world by the non-eco friendly corporations. Without action to stop the destruction of the earth’s ocean environment , the survival of humans could also be in question.
The reason oceans are essential to the continuance of homo sapiens:
“Covering over 70 percent of the earth’s surface, the ocean represents our planet’s largest habitat, containing 99 percent of the living space on the planet. This vast area supports the life of nearly 50 percent of all species on earth.” [NOAA]
“Biological productivity of the ocean plays a vital role in the global climate and carbon cycle and provides nearly 50 percent of the earth’s oxygen and 20 percent of the world’s protein supply.” ( Destruction of this habitat could decide the future of our planet.)
The large area of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where sea life can’t exist, is still growing with no relief in sight. Experts are concerned that the annual summer dead zone flowing from the Mississippi River into the Gulf will combine with the oil spill and cause a bigger problem. Also see: World’s Largest Dead Zone Suffocating Sea.
“In the Gulf’s annual dead zone, oxygen is severely depleted during warm summer months, literally suffocating life in an area roughly the size of Massachusetts.
“The problem originates in Minnesota where the Mississippi River begins to drain the nation’s agricultural heartland. The river picks up nitrogen and phosphorous used to fertilize fields-and urban lawns too…
“Once the chemicals reach the Gulf, they stimulate an unnatural super bloom of algae. The algae die and sink to the bottom where bacteria decompose them. And the bacteria suck up oxygen, leaving the water in a state of hypoxia-which means there is inadequate oxygen to support living cells…”
“Results: Lobsters, oysters and other slow-moving creatures are trapped and die. Even fish that flee for their lives suffer side effects such as shrunken reproductive organs and problems in spawning.” More.
But there is another problem that is bringing us closer to a world without fish and other sea creatures. It’s a type of deep sea fishing that is literally stripping the waters clean of all life. It consists of factory super trawlers using a method of fishing that is similar to what disgruntled soldiers in Viet Nam described as their preferred method of eliminating the enemy. “Kill ’em all. Let God sort ’em out.”
And that is what supertrawlers do, using fishing methods, non-selective for example, that picks up everything in their area of coverage. Undesirable fish or other creatures are considered by-catch. These fish can be used to make other products or are discarded. Much of the by-catch is thrown away. This catch all and sort them out system destroys the food chain and leads to the extinction of the habitat. And, eventually, the dead areas of the world mean less oxygen. See Oxygen Crisis, a threat to human survival?
“Bottom trawling involves towing heavy fishing gear over the seabed [and] it can cause large scale destruction on the ocean bottom, including coral shattering, damage to habitats and removal of seaweed.” The demand for food, any food, over the next 40 years will increase dramatically so restraint is probably not an option.
The best example of overfishing with factory ships and trawlers is the European Union, which has failed to control industry fishing among the member nations. In an article for the MailOnline (DailyMail), Alex Renton gives us a partial look into the future:
“Ten or twenty years from now, if you believe the scientists, wild fish will be something that only the very rich will be able to eat. For the rest of us, the menu will feature reconstituted fish bites made from algae and jelly fish.
“Or we’ll exclusively eat the second-rate fish farmed in swamps and pens, already the source of half of the world’s seafood.
“How can it have come to this? But make no mistake, though some of the fishing industry disputes it, the scientists’ figures are stark and convincing.
“European fish stocks are calamitously over-fished and Britain’s own stocks are 94 per cent lower than when industrialized fishing began in the late 19th century.”
Cod, once a staple of the British diet, is now caught around Iceland-and it costs as much as the best rump steak.
“It’s almost the same with haddock, plaice and sole. It is feared that native wild salmon will soon never be caught in Britain. Meanwhile, most of our oyster beds are finished.
“Quota systems (in the European Union) …were…flagrantly abused…Also, quotas ignore the reality of how trawling is done, causing dreadful waste and the destruction of other species.”
Renton notes a new report from marine biologist Professor Callum Roberts:
“In 1938, so teeming were our waters that Britain’s fleet of small under-powered fishing boats landed 5.4 times more fish as do today’s vast and hugely efficient super-trawlers.
“Our waters have never returned to these healthy levels and never will, because these industrial trawlers are capable of staying at sea for weeks, scouring the deepest ocean for sellable fish.
“As Professor Roberts says, over-fishing has destroyed not just individual species but entire marine eco-systems. The small species that fed the fish we traditionally buy are gone, as are the smaller ones they fed on.
“That means the chances of stocks recovering are minimal, even if fishing is halted – the world they lived in has vanished.” More from the article.
What that means over the next 40 years is that 2.1 billion more people will be on this planet, needing more oxygen and protein. But the fish won’t be there. What else? We don’t know yet. See Ocean Oxygen Levels Predict Catastrophic Change.
According to a recent United Nations report, “…the world fish stock could be depleted in 40 years if preventative measures are not taken.”
Also from the report:
“The world’s oceans may be COMPLETELY depleted of fish in 40 years if action is not taken to replenish stocks…” May 18, 2010.
“If the various estimates we have received..come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish.” Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP’s Green Economy plan.
Despite what the money chasers of Wall Street say, you can’t grow your business forever. All things must come to an end.
And, we’ve never been here before. This overcrowded, finite planet with finite resources is in decline. Wise leaders could have made this part of the journey meaningful. Instead, they’ve entrusted the fate of the earth to global merchants and financial interests, the false prophets whose only concern is the next big deal.
“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee…for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by their sorceries were all nations deceived.”