David Suzuki is a world-renowned scientist, broadcaster, activist, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and author of more than 30 books on ecology (written with files from senior editor Ian Hanington).
The ocean around the Florida Keys recently hit an all-time global record for surface temperature, at more than 38°C — as warm as a hot tub. Normal temperatures in the area range from 23°C to 31°C this time of year.
On the Pacific side, high temperatures in the Salish Sea off northeastern Vancouver Island have been cooking the kelp.
Scientists have found that ocean heat waves are rapidly increasing around the world, killing off corals, shellfish and other marine life. “The research found heatwaves are becoming more frequent and severe, with the number of heatwave days tripling in the last couple of years studied,” the Guardian reports.
The 2021 heat dome alone killed more than one billion marine animals off British Columbia’s coast. Because we rely on the ocean for so much — oxygen, food, medicine, carbon sequestration and climate regulation, recreation, transportation, storm protection — this damage affects us all.
The good news is that the world is finally starting to recognize how important the ocean is and how poorly we’ve treated it. Canada has joined many countries in committing to protect 30 per cent of its marine territory by 2030 and to help efforts to protect international waters. Government has effectively declared a moratorium on deep-sea mining and has set a goal for new national marine conservation areas.
Canada also joined other nations in signing a high seas treaty, which creates a legal framework to set up a network of marine protected areas in international waters.
But it’s not enough.
The sad state of the ocean is another symptom of our excessive lifestyles, fuelled by polluting, climate-altering gas, oil and coal. We must challenge all our outdated systems that propel overconsumption and waste, pollution and poverty.
We’ve inserted our relatively recent economic schemes into planetary processes we barely understand, elevating ourselves and our ideas above nature, justifying our rapid and destructive exploitation of everything around us. As we learn more about how nature’s networks interact and operate, we need to learn how to work with rather than against them.
The ocean is sending a stark warning. We don’t have much time.