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Harper's promotion of pipelines and cuts to science harms oceans

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Photo: dolanh/flickr

The Energy East, Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway pipelines would add hundreds of export oil supertankers on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, further worsening planetary climate change.

Now the Globe and Mail reports, "A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. ...There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported."

The article notes, "Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 per cent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming. ...Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises."

And it highlights, "Ultimately, [Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, one of the authors of the study] warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them. 'If by the end of the century we're not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there's not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean', he said."

In November 2012, the Globe and Mail reported, "Ottawa is shutting down a section of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans responsible for monitoring marine pollution issues [such as the level of hydrocarbons in sediment off the West Coast of Vancouver Island and the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls found in the fat of killer whales in southern Georgia Strait]. The unit, which is comprised of about 55 chemists, technicians and research scientists nationally, is being phased out as part of the government's ongoing austerity drive."

That article noted, "The group has been providing important early warning signals on the health of our oceans. ...That kind of knowledge allows government to draft policies designed to reduce pollutants at source. ...The current government, however, is blinding itself to such advance warnings."

Toronto-born Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson has stated, "The fate of the whale is our fate, for when the whale is gone, the oceans will die and when the oceans die, we die!" As Mr. Harper dismisses the realities of climate change to advance his agenda to massively expand the tar sands, we should also keep in mind the implications of his agenda on the oceans.

The full article is here: Ocean life faces 'major extinction,' study finds.

Photo: dolanh/flickr

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