Sunday, August 13, 2006

Slime on the Rise

If war or turbulent airport milieus aren't presenting enough excitement, then turn to an eco-story for further hair-raising news.

The LA Times is running a five-part series on the crisis facing the world's seas. The first installment, A Primeval Tide of Toxins, starts out by describing the effects of "fireweed", a sea species that:

...when fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos ...

Frightening, alarming, incredible. Another passage:

In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago.

Jeremy B.C. Jackson, a marine ecologist and paleontologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says we are witnessing "the rise of slime."
For many years, it was assumed that the oceans were too vast for humanity to damage in any lasting way. "Man marks the Earth with ruin," wrote the 19th century poet Lord Byron. "His control stops with the shore."

Read, read, read mein kinder. It's too important to miss.

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