Will the world's oceans turn to slime?


Image: MiketsukunibitoIt’s encouraging to see alarm for the world’s oceans within the diplomatic literature. In an essay in the November/December 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs, Alan B. Sielen, Senior Fellow at the Scripts Institute of Oceanography, challenge readers “to summon the will and moral courage to restore the seas to health before it is too late.”

Paralleling the view of PaleoTerran, Sielen writes: “Of all the threats looming to the planet today, one of the most alarming is the seeming inexorable descent of the world’s oceans into ecological perdition."

Just a century ago, ocean life seemed unalterable,

“Yet that sea life is now in peril. Over the last 50 years – a mere blink in geological time – humanity has come perilously close to reversing the almost miraculous biological abundance of the deep. Pollution, overfishing, the destruction of habitats, and climate change are emptying the oceans and enabling the lowest forms of life to regain their dominance. The oceanographer Jeremy Jackson calls it “the rise of slime”: the transformation of once complex oceanic ecosystems featuring intricate food webs with large animals into simplistic systems dominated by microbes, jellyfish, and disease. In effect, humans are eliminating the lions and tigers of the seas to make room for the cockroaches and rats.”


Alan B. Sielen. The Devolution of the Seas: The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction

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