Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Grim World Oceans Day

Today is the Second Annual Commemoration of the United Nations' World Oceans Day, first proclaimed by the General Assembly in ¶ 171 of Resolution 63/111 (2008). (Prior IntLawGrrls posts.)
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Our oceans: opportunities and challenges."
Unfortunately, right now the challenges are pretty overwhelming.
In last year's World Oceans Day speech, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged that

human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas.

And, that was before Deepwater Horizon pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf, killing an unknown number of fish, marine mammals, sea turtles and birds. (Prior IntLawGrrls posts available here.) The toxic dispersants being sprayed by the ton are taking an additional heavy toll. All told, the Gulf ecosystem has been devastated in ways that were unimaginable a few short months ago.
As we struggle to respond to the acute crisis of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, it is easy to lose sight of the profound impact that Global Warming is having on the world's oceans. Polar ice caps are melting, coral is dying, fish stocks have collapsed, and ocean acidification may be eroding the base of the ocean food chain.
Secretary-General Ban's 2010 World Oceans Day message is as timely as it is troubling:

The diversity of life in the oceans is under ever-increasing strain. Over-exploitation of marine living resources, climate change, and pollution from hazardous materials and activities all pose a grave threat to the marine environment.
UPDATE: A few hours ago, Jane Lubchenco, Administratof of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that deep sea plumes of oil are spreading across the Gulf. A very bad World Oceans Day just got much worse.

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