Sunday, June 21, 2015

It’s Not Just Climate — Pope Francis Is Also Warning About the Health of Our Oceans

With the release of his encyclical “Laudato Si” on Thursday, Pope Francis made headlines for recognizing the threat of human-caused climate change.

Sea lion (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
But the encyclical also called attention to the world’s oceans, affirming just how vital they are to “our common home.”  In Laudato Si, Francis talked about the unique threats marine environments face in a planet changed by humanity.

Below are six warnings from the Pope about the health of our oceans.  Quotes from the encyclical are shown in italics, along with their corresponding passage number.
* The polar plight
  “The melting in the polar ice caps and in high altitude plains can lead to the dangerous release of methane gas, while the decomposition of frozen organic material can further increase the emission of carbon dioxide.” [24]
* Sea level rise
  “A rise in the sea level…can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.” [24]
* Ocean acidification
  “Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness…an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” [24]
* Ocean-bound water pollution
  “Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls. It is not only a question of industrial waste. Detergents and chemical products, commonly used in many places of the world, continue to pour into our rivers, lakes and seas.” [29]
* Overfishing and seafood bycatch
  “Marine life in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, which feeds a great part of the world’s population, is affected by uncontrolled fishing, leading to a drastic depletion of certain species. Selective forms of fishing which discard much of what they collect continue unabated. Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them.” [40]
* Loss of marine biodiversity
  “In tropical and subtropical seas, we find coral reefs comparable to the great forests on dry land, for they shelter approximately a million species, including fish, crabs, mollusks, sponges and algae. Many of the world’s coral reefs are already barren or in a state of constant decline.” [41]
  “Wetlands converted into cultivated land lose the enormous biodiversity which they formerly hosted. In some coastal areas the disappearance of ecosystems sustained by mangrove swamps is a source of serious concern.” [39]

Read more at It’s Not Just Climate — Pope Francis Is Also Warning About the Health of Our Oceans

No comments:

Post a Comment