The Corpus Callosum

Dead Zones

No, it is not the name of a new rock band.  It is a phenomenon
that is increasing in frequency in the world’s oceans.  The
dead zones are areas with very low oxygen content, so low that nothing
can live there.  

Neil Barry Rincover, writing on U.S.
Politics and Other Nonsense
, brings us notice of a
report that the number of dead zones has increased by a third in the
past two years.  There are now 200.  

The study was sponsored by the Global Programme Action Global (GPA) for
the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Sources.
 GPA is holding their 2nd Intergovernmental Review now, in
Beijing.  The press release can be found at the UNEP

Rise in Number of Marine ‘Dead Zones’

Global Programme Action Global (GPA) for the
Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Sources-2nd
Intergovernmental Review

Beijing/Nairobi, 19 October 2006 – The number of ‘dead
zones’ or low oxygenated areas in the world’s seas
and oceans may now be as high as 200 according to new scientific
estimates released at an international marine pollution meeting in

De-oxygenated zones are areas where algal blooms, triggered by
nutrients from sources including fertilizer run off, sewage, animal
wastes and atmospheric deposition from the burning of fossil fuels, can
remove oxygen from the water.

The low levels of oxygen in the water make it difficult for fish,
oysters and other marine creatures to survive as well as important
habitats such as sea grass beds…

This can have serious negative consequences for global fish stocks,
which are already damaged by overfishing.  

The UNEP/GPA Coordination Office is posting documents from the
conference here.
 One of them, the Guidance to the implementation of
the Global Programme of Action
, contains the following
statement to underscore the seriousness of the problem:

…Damage to coastal habitats and wildlife is
increasingly becoming more severe as a result of human population
growth and increased economic and development activities. The most
affected coastal systems include wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs.
While deterioration is worse in regions that have faster growth in
population, no area is spared.

Overall, the situation is worsening and will most likely continue to
worsen in future…

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not getting much attention in the
news.  Google News lists fewer than 200 articles on the
subject, in contrast to  “Madonna’s Either a Saint Or a
Sinner,” which has 1,270.