The Oceans Are Dying (Faster Than Ever)

I have written many posts here about the speed at which the oceans are collapsing and disorganizing.  I have also suggested that all earth systems are in accelerating decay at roughly the same rate, but we have the best historic data (and best current data sources) on our oceans, so the decline is most obvious there.  This post again looks at the oceans, and does so by looking, literally, at opposite ends of the oceanic food chain.

A new study came out this week regarding the “true catch” of the worlds oceans.  The landmark study, ten years in the making, asserts that our global catch has been much, much higher than UN Food and Agriculture Organization numbers reflect (the FAO simply adds up the official numbers that countries send it, without looking into the numbers).  The study suggests that our catch has been some 30% higher than acknowledged, and that since 1996 the catch has been dropping much more rapidly than official numbers acknowledge.

The study has broad implications, particularly for the 2.5 billion people for whom fish is a critical source of protein.  A few years ago a study was done (and I have quoted it frequently) projecting that commercial fish stocks would collapse globally by the year 2050.   By my own back-of-the-envelope calculations, that 2050 figure had already been reduced to 2035 by a host of other adverse factors.  I don’t know yet how to update the 2035 number with this new data, but obviously the impact is a negative one.

At the other end of the food chain is phytoplankton, and we are seeing more studies and comments from around the world expressing concern for phytoplankton.  Phytoplankton are basically fish food for new-born fish and other small life forms.  These in turn are the food for things that bigger fish eat.  Phytoplankton is the base of the oceanic food chain.  A new study out on the Indian Ocean points to steadily warming waters there and a steadily declining phytoplankton count.  It is feared that the Indian Ocean could become an “ecological desert” because if you erode the base of the food chain, everything above it dies.

But of course, the concern is not limited to just the Indian Ocean.  All waters are being impacted by a host of threats.  We are seeing mass bird deaths and suspect that the small fish the birds prey upon have dwindled out or moved on.  We are seeing strange diseases in a multitude of ocean life forms off the west coast of the US, with mass die-offs.  We are seeing stunning pollution levels, coral bleaching, and habitat destruction around the world.  And we are seeing more and more trawlers (illegally) fishing in the Antarctic – because they have fished out every other significant fishery on earth.

The oceans are dying.  But then so, too, is the earth.  As investors, are we cognizant of this fact?  And by that, I mean, do we invest our time, our money, our social contacts and reputations, in something that is lasting?   Or do we waste our resources on something that is dying and therefore is losing value daily?  Do be clear: do we spend our resources on spreading the news of salvation through Jesus and an earth made new or do we put them to work in and for a world that has very little time left?

Scott Christiansen