The Tragedy of the High Seas

The Economist reports “The high seas are so vast and distant that people behave as though they cannot be protected or do not need protection. Neither is true. Humanity has harmed the high seas, but it can reverse that damage. Unless it does so, there will be trouble brewing beneath the waves.”


  1. A deeper look at the seas is not for the fainthearted. Apocalyptic from many perspectives and striking the eye and imagination perhaps even more than a look at ecological devastation on land.

    Problem is, it's not easy to "reverse that damage" (heck, are you kidding? How to reverse ocean acidification?). Even simple looking things like replenishing collapsed fish stock is not always successful (depending on the degree of genetic collapse perhaps).
    When ecosystems get reconfigured, or, "bombed into stone age" it is often impossible to get back to the original state, and the system could as well just be stuck at vastly more primitive stage of ecosystem evolution. (A recent report from the Exxon Valdez aftermath would be extremely interesting and illuminating.)

  2. It speaks volumes that environmental problems only get attention when magazines like The Economist weigh in.

    Oceanographers like Jeremy Jackson have been talking about ocean degradation for some time now with very little traction outside the environmental community.

    Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad thing when the Economist reports on this kind of stuff.

    What is bad -- sad, even pathetic -- is that some people feel the need to get their "science" from the Economist and, worst of all, simply won't believe it when it comes from scientific sources like IPCC.

    Personally, I would not a trust a single word (well, maybe the word "the") in an article in the The Economist on a scientific issue that I did not already know about.

    But that's just me.

    PS I agree with Martin that the idea that we can "reverse the damage'" to the oceans is highly questionable in some cases (ocean acidification)

    But if by "trouble brewing beneath the waves", the Economist means "extinction of a significant part of all sea life", I'll buy that.

  3. By the way, I have experience with family members not believing the IPCC or Scientific American on climate change and other environmental issues but believing the Economist, so that's where I am coming from on this issue.

  4. If you have a strong stomach and an appetite for the truth, Jeremy Jackson is informative:

    Short packaged version:

    Long version:
    This looks to be like an expanded and updated version of this next (44 minutes), which is where and when I became acquainted with him; I also like the slide setup here:

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