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Ocean Map Charts Path of Human Destruction

ScieneNOW – February 14, 2008

While the cause or reality of global warming is frequently debated on this site and many others, the fact that humans can (and have) negatively impacted our environment is rarely challenged. There are innumerable examples of abuse or neglect across the planet even though there appears to be more of an understanding of this activity. If you read this site regularly (or occasionally) you are likely concerned with the environment to some degree and this study will be interesting to you.

This article points to a study that covers the impact that human activity has had on the oceans. It makes a scary claim that humans have severely compromised 40% of the water ecosystems! This is potentially a bigger problem than global warming which only potentially threatens some beach-front properties.

Four years in the making, a groundbreaking new map of the state of the world’s oceans was released today, and its message is stark: Human activity has left a mark on nearly every square kilometer of sea, severely compromising ecosystems in more than 40% of waters.



…combines 17 anthropogenic stressors, including coastal runoff and pollution, warming water temperature due to human-induced climate change, oil rigs that damage the sea floor, and five different kinds of fishing. Hundreds of experts worked to weigh and compare the stressors, overlaying them on top of maps that the scientists built of various ecosystems, with data obtained from shipping maps, satellite imagery, and scientific buoys. Then marine scientists modeled how different ecosystems would be affected by the stressors, mapping so-called impact scores onto square-kilometer-sized parcels worldwide. The scores correspond to colored pixels on the new map.


The data suggest, for example, that ecosystems found in rocky reefs and on continental shelves “are being impacted even more” than coastal coral reefs, which get much more attention. But coral reefs are in bad shape themselves: The map indicates that nearly half of global reefs are experiencing serious, multiple impacts, including damage from fishing and ocean acidification.

You can read the entire news story here. Also, check out the the map on Google Earth and a video of the spinning globe with the damage!

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