Oceans Hit Hard By Human Activity

copyright Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

By Stephen Leahy

Feb 15 (IPS) – Oceans span nearly three quarters of the Earth’s surface and despite this vast size hardly a square kilometre has been untouched by humans.

Researchers released the first-ever global map of human impacts on oceans Thursday in the journal Science. Impacts ranged from fishing to pollution to ship transportation.

“There really aren’t any areas without human impacts,” said Kimberly Selkoe, a principal investigator on the project and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii.

“The most shocking message here is that we don’t actually have a lot of data on human impacts,” Selkoe told IPS. Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Spared Ocean Dumping Experiment

galap3.jpgLast summer while working in the Galapagos Islands I wrote about Planktos, a company that wanted to create plankton blooms near the islands by dumping tons of iron particles into the ocean: Carbon Project Endangers the Galápagos.

Planktos hoped these plankton blooms would ultimately become a lucrative way of removing carbon from the atmosphere. However in a January issue of the journal Science, a number of international scientists issued a warning that not enough was known to commercialize what is known as iron fertilization of the oceans.

Last summer’s dumping in the Galapagos never went forward, in part because of strong local objections, concern by marine scientists over unintended impacts and international environmental group protests. Feb 13 Planktos announced indefinite postponement of the experiment due to lack of investment funds because of “an effective disinformation campaign” by those opposing the effort.