Written by Brendan Smith
Put down your fork — Whole Foods is not telling you the whole story. The dirty little secret of their seafood rating system is that it ignores the largest and most imminent threat to our oceans: greenhouse-gas emissions. Even if every human on the planet miraculously decided to buy only seafood stamped with the Whole Foods seal of “sustainablity,” marine species will still be doomed.
This is not a secret threat: Just last month, the International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) — a consortium of 27 of the top ocean experts in the world — declared that effects of climate change, ocean acidification, and oxygen depletion have already triggered a “phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.” According to Dr. Alex Rogers, director of the IPSO [PDF]:
The findings are shocking. As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realized … We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime.
Sadly, in the era of climate crisis, overfishing and other forms of unsustainable harvest are the least of our problems. Rising carbon emissions are radically changing the chemical composition of our seas, having already contributed to the destruction of more than 85 percent of the world’s coral and oyster reefs. Rising air temperatures are changing wind patterns, which is a major cause of more than 400 ocean “dead zones” devoid of oxygen and sea life. Species ranging from gray whales to plankton are fleeing their native habitats for the first time in nearly 2 million years as water temperatures rise. (more…)