Fish Food and Chemistry

What do pork chops and ocean acidification have in common?

Both are responsible for the degradation of biodiversity in our oceans.

Marine biologists’ and climate scientists’ predictions for our oceans are grim. When watching Julia Barne’s documentary, Sea of Life, at the WaterDocs film festival this past weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of doomsday panic with a tiny glimmer of hope. A simplification of the problem would be to say that the creatures of our oceans are fighting a war against human activity. A more accurate view is that we are waging a war against the human species, because what we do to the ocean, we do to ourselves.

It is predicted that we could have fish-less oceans by 2048. Much of this fish is wasted and another 30% of it is ground up to be fed to pigs and chickens. Fish, being an excellent source of protein, are fed to pigs to bulk them up. Fish are an integral part of the ocean’s food chain. One can only imagine how long it will take for the rest of our diverse species to die out once the fish disappear. And with no fish, what on Earth will we feed the pigs!?

Pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the rate in which we do now, changes the chemistry of our oceans. Carbon dioxide is absorbed into the oceans where it reacts with water to form a dilute acid. Carbonate ions present in seawater react with the dilute acid to neutralize the acid and regulate the pH of the oceans. Carbonate ions concentrations are decreasing – there simply aren’t enough to keep up with the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The pH of our oceans is decreasing to a level that prevents skeletons from forming and causes coral reef bleaching (coral death). This will significantly impact life in the ocean.

An analogy for our times:

It’s morning, you have enough coffee beans to make one cup. You make a strong cup of coffee; it tastes bitter. You open the cupboard, grab the sugar and sprinkle  some in your cup; it still tastes quite bitter. You scoop another spoonful or two, dump it in and stir; it’s perfect: no longer bitter and not too sweet. You’re feeling impulsive this morning. You enjoy scooping the sugar, dumping it in the coffee and stirring. An irrational urge takes over you, you put another spoonful of sugar in your coffee, and another, and another, and you keep dumping sugar into the coffee until what you have in your cup is not really coffee at all. All the coffee beans are gone and your coffee is undrinkable.

Why did you do it? Seems a bit crazy doesn’t it?

The obsession with growth, bigger houses, bigger cars, more food, more fuel, more waste, in a finite world IS crazy. We all need to slow down.

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