Almost half of the world’s oceans have been ruined to some degree … often very severely … by human activity. You’ve heard a lot on the news and in the blogosphere about this lately. This increased interest is in part because of the recent production (Feb 15th Science) of a map of the ocean showing these impact.
Here is the map:
The work, published in the Feb. 15 issue of Science and presented at a press conference Thursday, February 14 at 1 pm EST at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, MA, was conducted at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara. It involved 19 scientists from a broad range of universities, NGOs, and government agencies.
The study synthesized global data on human impacts to marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, continental shelves, and the deep ocean. Past studies have focused largely on single activities or single ecosystems in isolation, and rarely at the global scale. In this study the scientists were able to look at the summed influence of human activities across the entire ocean.
“This project allows us to finally start to see the big picture of how humans are affecting the oceans.” said lead author Ben Halpern, assistant research scientist at NCEAS. “Our results show that when these and other individual impacts are summed up, the big picture looks much worse than I imagine most people expected. It was certainly a surprise to me.”
“This research is a critically needed synthesis of the impact of human activity on ocean ecosystems,” said David Garrison, biological oceanography program director at NSF. “The effort is likely to be a model for assessing these impacts at local and regional scales.”
A sample of other discussions on this issue:
See also many excellent posts on Blogfish.