The World’s Oceans – Should We Worry?

Scot put up a post last Saturday You Might be an Evangelical Reject if you … that received a fair bit of attention and comment. Much of the comment centered on the sentiment, rare but not unheard of, that connects Christian eschatology with resistance to environmentalism … the end is coming so we should concentrate on evangelism not environmentalism. Certainly there is a connection made, both within parts of evangelicalism and in the broader culture. Environmentalism or “creation care”  is a rather abstract concept though – so I would like to put up a specific example from a recent article for consideration and comment. From the BBC: World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline:

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.

This is a pretty devastating report … accelerated melting of arctic and antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, over fishing, pollution. A little later:

But more worrying than this, the team noted, are the ways in which different issues act synergistically to increase threats to marine life.

Some pollutants, for example, stick to the surfaces of tiny plastic particles that are now found in the ocean bed.

This increases the amounts of these pollutants that are consumed by bottom-feeding fish.

Plastic particles also assist the transport of algae from place to place, increasing the occurrence of toxic algal blooms – which are also caused by the influx of nutrient-rich pollution from agricultural land.

In a wider sense, ocean acidification, warming, local pollution and overfishing are acting together to increase the threat to coral reefs – so much so that three-quarters of the world’s reefs are at risk of severe decline.

The story is picked up as well in the Huffington Post State Of The Ocean: ‘Shocking’ Report Warns Of Mass Extinction From Current Rate Of Marine Distress.

How do you evaluate claims such as this?

Assuming that it is true, how should we respond?

Among the recommendations arising from the report:

  1. Immediate reduction of CO2 emissions.
  2. Urgent actions to restore the structure and function of marine ecosystems.
  3. Proper and universal implementation of the precautionary principle so “activities proceed only if they are shown not to harm the ocean singly or in combination with other activities.”
  4. Urgent introduction by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly of effective governance of the High Seas beyond the jurisdiction of any individual

Do these recommendations seem reasonable?

Does your faith in God or your understanding of eschatology play any role in your position?

How should Christians respond?

This report comes from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), from a meeting that brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists. You can find the preliminary reports here. IPSO was established by people, scientists and others, because they believe that there is a serious threat to the health of the world’s oceans.

Does the “bias” of IPSO cause you to question their report? If so what kind of group would you believe? Why?

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