Swimming Upstream

By: Neil Feineman

In Seattle, on March 7th of this year, scientists released results of a study on low oxygen levels in parts of the ocean in the respected journal, Science. They concluded that we had reached yet another ecological "tipping point." While these low oxygen levels, which have killed millions of fish and left "dead zones" in their wake, were considered odd flukes a few years ago, they are now looking more like the rule than the exception.

This phenomenon, which most scientists contend is a demonstrable proof of global warming, is particularly troubling because the shallow waters most affected by the low oxygen levels produce 20 percent of the fish we eat. Going out of their way to not appear alarmist, the authors of the study warn that the ocean is "poised for significant reorganization." That's science-speak for "Uh-oh."

"Oxygen is such a basic, critical (need) for the ecological processes for marine life that changing that number in a rapid and dramatic way, is likely to have some big ecological consequences," concludes Francis Chan, one of the study's co-authors. That's science speak for "enjoy the salmon while you can."

Without trying to be an alarmist myself, I'd like to raise one more question. Given that we are talking about millions of dead fish and the possible depletion not just of our fish supply but the economic vitality of an entire region, why isn't the media interested in this story?

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