Do NOT Read This Book

I'm in too deep to stop, but it would be hard for me to recommend Callum Roberts' book The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea-- it's just too depressing-- though he tries to keep the tone as hopeful as possible, the weight of the evidence is overwhelming: our oceans, the life within them, and the complex food-chains and filters of our planet are in dire jeopardy, unless we collectively start doing things very differently; here are some awful things I've learned so far:

1) the ocean is absorbing much of the carbon dioxide emitted when we burn fossil fuels, and this is causing a usurious problem that has been overlooked until recently: ocean acidification . . . to an extent that hasn't been seen in 300 million years-- at the end of the Permian, when there was a mass extinction; many corals, marine plants, and shelled animals need "dissolved carbonate minerals" and the lower pH makes it harder for these animals to "crystallize carbonate" out of a solution;

2) a cool fact, a pint of seawater contains two billion viruses, and they are helping to slow the rate at which the ocean is acidifying, but no one knows at what level of pH those tiny organisms won't be able to function-- or if they function too well, then there is an increase in global warming, because they recycle the the nutrients in sunlit waters-- keeping carbon in the cycle, instead of letting it sink into the deep sea;

3) nutrients, fertilizer and run-offs are causing toxic algal blooms at a much greater intensity and rate, red tides and other toxic phytoplankton which, when ingested, can cause hallucinations, nightmares, nerve-damage, cancer, birth defects, and tumors (especially in sea turtles) and the increase of big storms with high-winds has exacerbated airborne instances of sickness and contact, the "storms churn the sea into a spray which can be inhaled," resulting in rashes and lung inflammation . . . but what's bad for us is good for one creature-- the "triple combination of nutrient enrichment, low oxygen, and overfishing" is wonderful for jellyfish, so if you're taking a trip to the beach, make sure you bring meat tenderizer;

4) persistent organic pollutants (POPs for short) are building up in water and ice and animal fat all over the world, chemicals like DDT and PCBs are especially deleterious-- the toxic load carried by male dolphins in Sarasota Bay makes their flesh equivalent to biohazard . . . females have lower amounts of toxins because they pass much of the bad stuff to their offspring through pregnancy and breast feeding . . . and these toxins are making their way up the food chain, into large animals like whales and humans, and there are thousands of new chemicals wending their way through the waters and polar ice and food chains and we don't even know the consequences, so get used to the acronyms, there will be more to come;

5) if the chemicals don't get you, the heavy metals will-- the most toxic is mercury, and the main culprit for mercury pollution are coal-fired power plants . . . Asian plants produce over half of the world's mercury pollution, and it seems they are "hell-bent on building more" such plants . . . and if Trump has his way with deregulation, maybe we'll see more coal burning in America as well . . . anyway, my son loves sushi, but he really shouldn't be eating it, as tuna often exceeds safe levels of mercury . . . but the FDA also recommends that children and pregnant women don't eat swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark . . .

and I'm not even halfway done with the book, so sorry, but there will be more bad news to come.


zman said...

Cuttlefish is delicious and probably too small to accumulate dangerous amounts of mercury, and it's basically a little squid so hopefully it will do well in the new oceanic environment so we can eat lost of cuttlefish sushi at low prices, unless we import cuttlefish from elsewhere in which case Trump will tax the hell out of it and create tax breaks for cuttlefish farms in the Rust Belt, which will create really expensive and substandard cuttlefish that only zero-point-one-percenters can afford on a regular basis, although it might also lead to an uptick in cuttlefish husbandry supplies would could help the economy too, assuming they are made domestically, but if so then they will cost a lot more than cuttlefish accouterments made in China due to our higher labor costs, unless Trump slashed the minimum wage so that people can afford US-manufactured items, but that would seem to cut against his promise to help the working people of America, but then again he went back on that promise when he chose to stock his cabinet with experienced people.

Dave said...

I will only buy 'merican made cuttlefish and I will only eat it if it is deep-fried.

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