Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Protect our oceans - Common Ownership

Or Common Ownership 
Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface.  More than 3.5 billion people depend on them for food, energy and income.

The United Nations is now posting a new environmental warning: the world is running out of time to prevent the gradual degradation of the world’s oceans and the widespread destruction of marine life. The United Nations says delays in implementing solutions to the problems already identified as threatening to degrade the world’s oceans will lead, unnecessarily, to incurring greater environmental, social and economic costs.

The first World Ocean Assessment found the sustainable use of the oceans cannot be achieved unless the management of all sectors of human activities affecting the oceans is coherent.

Experts examined a wide range of issues that affect the oceans’ ecosystems and marine biodiversity, including the impacts of climate change, ice coverage, the frequency of storms, ocean acidification, land-based activities, unsustainable fishing practices, shipping activities, invasive non-native species, offshore hydrocarbon industries and marine debris. “And they found that the world’s oceans are in dire shape,” according to the U.N.

John Tanzer, director of the Global Marine Programme at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) told IPS the U.N. report is “further substantive proof that the health of our ocean and its economic base are under serious threat and that we need to take immediate action.”

By protecting the ocean’s natural and cultural resources, marine protected areas play a central role in addressing some of the global development challenges of today, such as food and energy security, poverty and climate change.

Meanwhile, the WWF said the untapped riches in the world’s oceans are estimated at nearly $24 trillion – the size of the world’s leading economies. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of 2.5 trillion dollars, according to the study. Describing the oceans as economic powerhouses, the study warned that the resources in the high seas are rapidly eroding through over-exploitation, misuse and climate change. “The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International.

Environmentalists rightly show how many of our current productive methods are not 'sustainable' in that they damage the environment for future generations. Why is it that with the accumulated wealth of knowledge and expertise in every field of food production that so much soil is degraded, the health of oceans and prospects for fishing are under threat, and large areas have lost the biodiversity which is so essential to the health of the planet? All over the world the present economic system plunders and wastes the Earth's non-renewable mineral and energy sources. All over the world it pollutes the sea, the air, the soil, forests, rivers and lakes. All over the world it upsets natural balances and defies the laws of ecology. Clearly this destruction and waste cannot continue indefinitely, but it need not; it should not and must not. It is quite possible to meet the basic material needs of every man, woman and child on this planet without destroying the natural systems on which we depend and of which we are a part. The productive methods that would have to be adopted to achieve this are well enough known:
1) The practice of types of farming that preserve and enhance the natural fertility of the soil;
2) The systematic recycling of materials (such as metals and glass) obtained from non-renewable mineral sources;
3) The prudent use of non-renewable energy sources (such as coal, oil and gas) while developing alternative sources based on natural processes that continually renew themselves (such as solar energy, wind power and hydroelectricity);
4) The employment of industrial processes which avoid the release of poisonous chemicals or radioactivity into the biosphere;
5) The manufacture of solid goods made to last, not to be thrown away after use or deliberately to break down after a calculated period of time.

So what stands in the way? Why isn't this done? The simple answer is that, under the present economic system, production is not geared to meeting human needs but rather to the accumulation of monetary wealth out of profits. As a result, not only are basic needs far from satisfied but much of what is produced is pure waste from this point of view—for example all the resources involved in commerce and finance, the mere buying and selling of things and those poured into armaments. The whole system of production, from the methods employed to the choice of what to produce, is distorted by the imperative drive to pursue economic growth for its own sake and to give priority to seeking profits to fuel this growth without consideration for the longer term factors that ecology teaches are vitally important. The result is an economic system governed by blind economic laws which oblige decision-makers, however selected and whatever their personal views or sentiments, to plunder, pollute and waste.