A report just issued by the US Executive Office of Science and Technology Policy, representing the work of scientists from multiple institutions, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Geological Survey and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, indicates that ocean hypoxia has increased nearly 30-fold since data began to be collected 50 years ago.
The scientists found that nearly half of the 647 total US coastal water bodies evaluated are currently affected by hypoxia, a condition in which oxygen levels drop so low that fish and other marine life cannot survive.
Their assessment also linked the rapid spread of these low-oxygen areas to livestock manure and fertilizer run-off, which is carried in waterways and dumps a surplus of substances such as nitrogen and phosphorus into the oceans.
Algae then grow in the waters and deplete oxygen supplies. While this report focuses on the coastal waters of the USA, Dr. Tony Koslow of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography cautioned that dead zones are a growing global problem, one which is likely being accelerated by climate change, because of the effect that the warming of the top ocean layer has when it mixes with the colder, oxygen-poor layers further below.
Dr. Koslow stated that oxygen levels in deep oceans are forecast to decline up to 40% in the next century, with potentially devastating effects on sensitive marine organisms. Moreover, the report concluded, “If current practices are continued, the expansion of hypoxia in coastal waters will continue and increase in severity.”
Our appreciation, Dr. Koslow, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, US Executive Office of Science and Technology Policy and all participating scientists, for this updated information about the dire state of our marine environments.
We pray for the rejuvenation of the oceans and all inhabitants as humans choose lifestyles that reflect awareness and consideration of all beings. Speaking with concern during an October 2009 videoconference in Formosa (Taiwan), Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed the detrimental impacts of livestock-raising to marine ecosystems and what must be done to reverse these effects.