Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our Environment in Print: articles to ponder on oceans, fish, and climate

A short post as I am immersed in preparing camera gear for an upcoming shoot. I wanted to highlight a couple of interesting articles I have recently read that not only touch on ocean and environmental issues but also deal with the human, political, or economic components that we must be prepared to deal with if we expect to make real progress.

The Ocean Health Index: Miller-McCune.com ran an interesting article, actually the first of a three, on the development of an Ocean Health Index. Three of the lead scientists in this multi-disciplined project explain how the index is being developed. The Ocean Health Index intends to express more than just the state of ocean biodiversity. There are hoping to attain a more holistic indicator of ocean health that incorporates plants and animals, people, economic or commercial viability, and more.

"Each of us individually, and each of our organizations, is vested in defining and measuring ocean health from a more holistic perspective than has been attempted in the past. The rationale for doing so is to evaluate what is happening to individual and very different parts of the ocean (such as fisheries, water quality, and carbon-sequestering coastal habitats) without losing sight of how the ocean as a whole is changing from place to place and from time to time. The litmus test for the success of our efforts will be whether the Ocean Health Index helps policymakers and the public to make better decisions about what they get from, and leave in, the ocean."

The Ocean Health Index project entails hundreds of scientists, government officials, and other subject matter experts, plus in various academic, research, government, and conservation organizations. It is hoped that the index will be ready for use in early 2012.

The Future of Fish:
TIME Magazine's latest cover story looks at the stake of our commercial fisheries and the need to turn to effective, environmentally-viable fish farming, or aquaculture. The article details the status of many commercially-sought after species and what fish holds promise within a farming model.

Anyone who has spent any time reading this blog knows that I am an advocate of aquaculture, despite its challenges to doing it in an environmentally-safe manner, as it poses the most logical solution to pulling fish from the wild - the same solution man realized long ago with cattle and poultry.

Says TIME writer Bryan Walsh, "
With 7 billion people, however, the planet doesn't have much space for such freedom. It's not that commercial fishing will disappear; in fact, sustainable fisheries like Alaska's wild-salmon industry may even produce boutique foods, finally earning what they're worth. There's no doubt that something will be lost in the transition to mass aquaculture, as fish — the last true wild food — are domesticated to support human beings, in much the same way we tamed cattle, pigs and chickens thousands of years ago. But if we're all going to survive and thrive in a crowded world, we'll need to cultivate the seas just as we do the land. If we do it right, aquaculture can be one more step toward saving ourselves. And if we do it well, we may even enjoy the taste of it."

Climate of Denial: In some circles, the term global warming is being jettisoned in favor of climate change. Why? Because the deniers of the effects of our dependence on fossil fuels take aim at every heavy snowfall or extended rain and declare "What warming?" But that's just part of the orchestrated games that are played by those who prosper from our continued expelling of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - and by the media who prefers to feed off of the controversy rather than deal with the overwhelming facts.

In its latest issue, Rolling Stone, that venerable instigator of alternative thinking disguised as an entertainment magazine for the youth, presents Climate of Denial: The Media & the Merchants of Pollution, written by former Vice President Al Gore. It is, perhaps, not the usual detailed assessment of our current climate condition given by someone who has been leading the charge for several decades now.

This time, Vice President Gore looks at why we are not further along in dealing with this earth-threatening issue. And he does so in some very pointed descriptions,
"Most politicians and the media, sadly, fall into two categories: those who cheerlead for the deniers, and those who cower before them." The gloves are off as he identifies the political motivators and economic supporters behind the politicians who choose to deny that climate change exists. From Republicans to President Obama, no one is spared a critical assessment - in a word, the Veep's p.o.'d.

"The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable - given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason - of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it."

However, by no means is Al Gore throwing in the towel. The article reviews many of the latest environmental indicators of the effects of global warming, then lays into the various players to whom we charge the responsibility for doing something about it, but then concludes with a measure of hope and optimism by turning to all of us and giving us some direction as to what we should be doing, how we can be the game-changers in ultimately making climate change the critical and pressing issue it needs to be.

Well, I thought it would be a short post. . .

Read about the Ocean Health Index in Miller-McCune.com.
Read about fish farming in
TIME Magazine.
Read Al Gore's article on the politics of climate change in
Rolling Stone.

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