SNS: Special Letter: Losing Access to Fish from the Sea

SNS: Special Letter: Losing Access to Fish from the Sea


Volume 12, Issue 32   
Week of September 14th, 2009

In This Issue

Special Feature: “Better Living Through Chemistry”: Losing Access To Fish From The Sea

  • A Bit of History
  • EDCs: Clambering Up the Food Pyramids
  • An Unintended Legacy
  • Setting Off Around the World
  • From the Skin of Whales: Lessons in Poisons
  • Chromium: A Nasty Surprise
  • Traveling Toxins: The Human Connection
  • No International Control on Whaling
  • An Emerging Threat
  • Reasons for Optimism!
  • About Roger Payne


Publisher’s Note: At a time when all the news seems bad, who needs one more slice of what today’s biologists call, in referring to their jobs, “documenting the decline?” No one.

And yet, this is all “just desserts” for a species that has managed to make its own planet toxic in just a hundred years or so, the smallest possible bit of time along our species history. Can the Earth afford the human species? If the judgment had to be made today, the answer would be an obvious “No.” Add to that all of the doubters, anti-science types, and “Party First, Country Second” folks so hard at work confusing the issues, and – well, case closed.

But humans have another attribute: although we are hard to arouse to a unified cause, once aroused, we are extremely potent.

Roger Payne is likely the world expert on perhaps the (OTHER) most important problem facing us today: we have polluted the oceans, beyond anyone’s wildest fears. In this exacting piece, Roger shares the knowledge he has personally accumulated in traveling the world’s seas, sampling whales (the ultimate bio-accumulators) for important and dangerous substances.

I don’t see this problem as being much different than all of our other human-caused problems – at least those relating to sustainability. How can one separate air pollution from marine pollution, or land pollution? As Roger notes, the water is “downhill” from all of them.

We don’t need a single solution for a single chemical, like CO2 or PCBs. Rather, we need a global, cultural mindset, recognizing that a) we plan to stay on this planet, as a species, for a lot longer; and b) our only alternative for doing so is to stop degrading it.

If this becomes a Cultural Imperative, the rest is easy: passing laws, giving money, not acting irresponsibly. I hope this paper brings those of our members still not quite convinced, to a point where they are fully convinced, and ready for cultural change. – mra.

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