Day 577: Over the Horizon

“Even if a small fraction of the Arctic carbon were released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked,” he told me. What alarmed him was that ”the methane bubbles were reaching the surface. That was something new in my survey of methane bubbles,” he said.
“The conventional thought is that the bubbles would be dissolved before they reached the surface and that microorganisms would consume that methane, and that’s normal,” Box went on. But if the plumes are making it to the surface, that’s a brand new source of heat-trapping gases that we need to worry about.

Researchers are out with the first-ever global measurements of marine mercury, putting a number on pollution’s impact. It’s a big one: since the start of the Industrial Revolution, they found, surface mercury levels have more than tripled.
The international team spent eight years collecting water samples from the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern, and Arctic oceans, measuring mercury concentrations and then figuring out how much of it was put there by humans (gotta love that gold mining and coal burning). Science Magazine reports on their findings:
The calculations suggest that the ocean contains about 60,000 to 80,000 tons of mercury from pollution, with almost two-thirds residing in water shallower than a thousand meters, the team reports online today in Nature. Mercury concentration in waters shallower than 100 meters has tripled compared with preindustrial times, they found, whereas mercury levels in intermediate waters have increased by 1.5 times. Higher mercury concentrations in shallower waters could increase the amount of toxin accumulating in food fish, exposing humans to greater risk of mercury poisoning, [Carl Lamborg, a marine geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and one of the study's authors] says. Countries ringing the North Atlantic Ocean, where the mercury concentration is among the highest recorded in the study, may be particularly vulnerable.

Does the world really need another book about the Great Barrier Reef? It already accounts for a small library’s worth of excellent volumes, from coffee table books to natural histories probing its unique ecology. With The Reef: A Passionate History, however, Iain McCalman has produced something important and utterly new: a detailed and engaging account of human interactions with the largest coral reef on the planet.
Stretching 1,250 miles along the eastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef (actually a collection of more than 2,500 separate reefs) is home to thousands of species of corals, fish, whales, crustaceans, sea turtles, sponges, and countless smaller but ecologically vital creatures. In what could best be described as an unnatural history, McCalman, a research professor of history at the University of Sydney, chronicles the slow discovery and quick unraveling of this unique ecosystem by humans who have viewed the reef primarily through the distorting prisms of fear, greed, and ignorance for more than two centuries.

Predictably, inevitably, we are headed toward a set of events that will determine the future of life on earth. It would be entirely accurate to say that we are almost certainly responsible for the most of this, but in truth we don't really know to what extent. Given the rapid deterioration of the planet's various life-sustaining systems, I am confident in saying that we are entirely responsible.

It has taken a few thousand years, but finally, we have destroyed everything that we have touched. What little beauty we have brought into this world has been swiftly squashed be countless cruelties, large and small.

The discussion about climate change and pollution is everywhere, and yet it is nowhere. World leaders, industry leaders, news agencies, magazines, the entertainment industry - parts of all of these industries are talking about it, about how it is a problem, and yet no one is talking about what needs to be done to really make a difference and create a future in which we can live in harmony with the planet and all of creation. The reason for this is that the changes to our lifestyles would have to be drastic - every industry in the world would have to shift their primary goal from making profit to making life good and ensuring that we have a future. When you put it that way it sounds like a no-brainer - unfortunately our long term survival falls under a category in our cognitive functioning that is called "DANGEROUS THOUGHTS - SUPPRESS HERE". Dangerous thoughts why? Essentially because those thoughts would lead to us to change ourselves, to change our programming - deleting the outdated software and installing new updates - and the old software doesn't want to be deleted.

Change is perceived to be a scary thing, mostly because we fear that whatever changes will not be as good as it was before. It doesn't even matter if what we have now isn't so great - we know it well and that gives us comfort.

When you think of the whole scenario it all seems so silly. We destroy the world because we won't make the effort to change the way we live - consequently leading to our own demise. Maybe we have the death wish, thanatos. Maybe we see some kind of twisted romantic appeal in doing things that we know will end badly - only until things start going wrong, then it's all snot and tears and "why me?!?"'s.

Yup... That's humanity for you.


  1. Cool,

    The reason why only one industry, or one corporation can't change their starting point from profit to best for all is because of how that would lead the business to bankruptcy – we need to have a political solution that make sure that there is the necessary support for everyone, so we can't change our ways without compromising our survival – a Living Income Guaranteed would make that a possibility


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