Thursday, 1 July 2010

seasick

Alanna Mitchell's contention is that if the ocean dies so does all life on earth.

In 2008 Alanna, an international award-winning journalist, travelled the world working with scientists who were researching the oceans and the life in the oceans and then she wrote a book called Seasick. On 18th June Alanna Mitchell won the $US75,000 2010 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment for Seasick. The chairman of the Grantham Prize Jury said, 'Reading Alanna Mitchell convinces you that the ocean is at least as important as the atmosphere when we worry about climate change. You cannot put this book down without understanding that, for life on earth to continue as it is, the ocean from which we evolved must remain healthy.'

We land-lubbers have been treating the sea badly for centuries and now we pay the price. There are not 'plenty of fish in the sea', we cannot keep on using the ocean as an endless sewer and grocery store, we cannot saturate the Southern Ocean with carbon dioxide and expect the plankton and other creatures to survive - most of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton in the sea and these humble, one-celled organisms, rather than the spectacular rain forests, are the true lungs of the planet. We already have dead zones in the ocean as a result of human activities and more to come. There are huge implications if the pH of the ocean continues to rise, if the temperature of the ocean continues to rise. We're in trouble if the currents in the north Atlantic stop or change. Alanna writes about keeping the ocean's life switch turned on. It's a scary book because the experts agree that the time frame is so short. They're talking about 30 years.

We talked about all of this at our Eco Book Group meeting this week. Alanna ends with a message of hope if we all start pulling together right now. Am I hopeful? No.

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