It's the Environment, Stupid.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The state of the seas

The state of oceans, and other earthly waters seems to be in the news a bit lately, as is the state of the fish within them.

A U.S. Geological Survey report about pesticides in rivers and streams (and the fish in them) came out Friday (check out this article “Pesticides reach most rivers” from the Seattle-PI 3/4/06).

The March 2006 issue of Scientific American has an article “Dangers of Ocean Acidification” (no link because you need subscriber access to get it online, but its easily browsable at your neighborhood magazine stand.)

ENN posted a story from the Sacramento Bee about new (or at least newly accessible) computer technology where you can check the mercury levels in your fish before consuming (3/2/06).

Mother Jones entire March/April issue is dedicated to this topic – oceans, fish, the fishing industry: “Last Days of the Ocean: We’re pushing our seas to the brink. Can they be saved?” I particularly liked Daniel Duane’s commentary “Navigating the Catch of the Day”
WE’RE ALL AT RISK, when it comes to fish, and not just of long-term mercury poisoning, but of the more immediate hazard familiar to anyone who has tried to buy seafood recently—anyone who reads a newspaper, that is. I refer to the moral and practical decision-making paralysis brought on by an almost laughable set of contradictions. The very same fatty tissues in which mercury builds up, for example, in the big fish that eat the little fish, pack loads of omega-3 fatty acids, the health elixir that has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure, and may even stave off certain cancers and ease depression. We should all eat fish all the time, in other words—except that we should try not to eat fish.” (read the rest here…)

Our waters are polluted, it is tainting our fish – but why are we in acceptance of this? Granted there’s a ton (well a heck of a lot more than just a ton) of mercury, PCBs and other toxins in our waters, most of which is either beyond the scope of clean-up or is deemed as cost prohibitive, but why are we even still allowing these chemicals to be emitted at all?

Minnesota state legislature is talking about reducing air-borne mercury emissions 90% by 2011. I would love to see that happen, but I’m sure, as with ALL environmental policy, big industry is likely to pull the same old sob story about how devastating it’ll be to the economy and economic growth, etc. and will still be allowed to spew mercury into the world.

I don’t think market based mechanisms are the way to go for toxins such as mercury, unless the end goal is zero over a relatively short period of time. If a trading system gets us to zero quicker that's fine, but otherwise it should be regulated in the old fashioned command and control style. Until then pass the mercury laden sea bass....

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