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Elephant In The Room
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Our Dying Oceans; Why Isn't This Big News?

By James Donahue

Those of us that have had the privilege of standing on a wharf and staring up at the massive wall of the side of an ocean-going ship have to wonder how the oceans can overpower and destroy machines like this.

But then, if we have the privilege of going on board a ship like this, and riding its decks out on the high seas, our juxtaposition is drastically changed. When the wind is blowing and the high seas are rolling the ship from side to side, we begin to wonder if the vessel under our feet is large enough and its engines powerful enough to bring us safely back into port.

The oceans of our world are massive. And the storms at sea can be powerful. In the days of sailing ships, vessels often remained at sea for months before making landfall. Sometimes they sailed off never to be heard of again. This may be why humans have been careless about dumping waste products from not only our ships, but trash from industrial and city waste, and agricultural run-off into our rivers into the open seas. We never dreamed that such activity could threaten the life that existed under those vast and seemingly endless waters.

It has taken us a few hundred years, but we have succeeded in doing this very thing. We are on the brink of killing the oceans of the world. The evidence can be found everywhere. The coral reefs, the dead and dying creatures both large and small now washing up on our shores, and the toxins now being found in the fish we once ate from the sea are all signposts that should be warning us of a looming threat of world extinction. 

We are all aware of the nuclear disaster at Fukishima, Japan, and the fact that millions of gallons of highly radioactive water used to cool hundreds of exposed rods of plutonium have been flushed into the open sea. We have heard of the massive volume of crude oil and chemical dispersants that were poured into the open sea after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the seas absorb the great volume of Carbon Dioxide now mixed in the atmosphere, the water is getting warm enough to cause extreme weather changes, intense storms, flooding and drought in places where moderate weather has always been the norm.
Researches now say the melting ice caps on the North and South Poles are releasing volumes of methane gas that has been trapped in the ice and on the ocean floor for hundreds of thousands of years. Methane is intensifying the warming of our planet.

Another relatively ignored issue has been the increasing acidization of the oceans. This is caused by the absorption of more and more CO2. A recent study by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research warned that the rapid acidization of the oceans has pushed the world beyond critical thresholds. And sea life cannot life in acidic water. This is why the plankton, the starfish, the sardines, dolphin, whales and even creatures never seen before are washing up dead on world beaches.

As the more delicate sea creatures perish, it is upsetting the balance of the delicate food chain that has its origins in the sea. And when the oceans die, we die. 

We are rushing blindly toward our own extinction and nobody seems to want to talk about it. The media is ignoring it. For most humans its business as usual.
It is estimated that 14 billions pounds of garbage are being dumped into the oceans every year. Much of this trash is plastic.

The Mississippi River, one of the thousands of rivers in the world, carries an estimated 1.5 metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico every year. There is a "dead zone" now about the size of New Jersey that exists in the gulf, at the mouth of the Mississippi. Similar dead zones can be found at the mouths of other major world rivers that pass through industrial and agricultural areas.

Every year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water and industrial waste are blatantly dumped into the waters along the coast of the United States. Similar levels of waste are coming from other developing nations of the world.

When Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen recently sailed his vessel from Melbourne, Australia to Osaka, Japan, and then east to San Francisco, he said he was shocked to find that the Pacific Ocean was devoid of life.

"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3,000 nautical miles, there was nothing alive to be seen," Macfadyen said.
Instead of living things, he said his hull was striking floating debris, plastic objects and garbage. He saw tangles of synthetic rope, pieces of polystyrene foam and slicks of oil everywhere he looked.

Why isn't the media telling us about this? This is probably the most important news story in the world, but our nightly television news is focused on olympic games, school shootings, wars and political scandels. Sometimes the storms that come along are starting to gain national attention, but the reporters just stand like fools in the middle of the gales, holding onto poles to keep the wind from blowing them away, to show us the severity of the event.
Nobody is asking why.