Marine Dead Zones Doubling

What do you get when human greed reaches alarming proportions? Increasing number of marine “dead zones” around the world. According to journal Science, researchers are stating that that the number of marine dead zones have doubled every ten years since 1960. According to them, around about 400 coastal areas now have periodically or permanently oxygen-starved bottom waters.

Although in comparison to the total surface covered by oceans on earth, the size of the dead zones is small, but the rate at which they are increasing has indeed set alarm bells ringing. The main cause attributed for this has been human activity around these areas and commercial fishing. Nitrogen from fertilizers or pollution leads to breeding of algae in coastal waters. Decay of dead algae happens in such a manner that the water area gets robbed of oxygen. Hypoxia, state of low oxygen, thus makes it difficult for sea life to breed. The increasing habit of dumping nuclear waste and human garbage into the ocean is also affecting marine life. The non-biodegradable plastic chokes the fish and many fish also get caught in the trash. Furthermore, the chemicals in paints and the like also pollute the water body, which endangers the fertility of the fish and leads to serious diseases. These dead zones have been responsible for killing fish, crustaceans and massive amounts of marine life at the base of the food chain.

Environmentalists have been urging the government, especially the industrialized nations, to review their policies regarding the coastlines. Concrete steps must be taken at the earliest possible time to impede further growth of these dead zones. Since run-off from sewers and farms is affecting the sea life, a proper policy to reduce this must be implemented. Since this is a global problem, not just a local problem, all nations must come up with a sustainable strategy to save our oceans, even if that solution would have a slightly negative impact on the economy of the countries.

It is very important that the countries look beyond the economic profits and consider saving one’s environment as a “profitable” venture too. Lack of awareness and lack of concern in the public is also encouraging the growth of dead zones. A picture of the most polluted river, Citarum near Jakarta sent shivers down my spine. It was not the picture of any river, it was the picture of a big garbage dump. Sadly, our own rivers are almost equally polluted.

It is reports like these which make me question the so-called intelligence of the human race. Our greed, coupled with venomous apathy, seems to have made us blind to all the havoc and destruction that we are causing. Water is our lifeblood. In the end, we will harm our own selves if we continue to exploit our oceans and rivers in such tragic a manner.

Shravya Jain

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