Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Closing of the Blue Frontier

Hauling up fish in a commercial net
Fishing, a parable for oil production
Our oceans are dying.

Or more accurately, we are killing them. We poison them with oil, smother them with plastic and make them acid with climate change.

Apart from savaging the ocean by habitat destruction, we are also busily decimating species directly for specious, pretend "research" (glad we don't research people this way), commerce (that destroys the commons), and tradition (even if it is cruel and unhealthy as well.)

Not only are we over-fishing with 90% of big fish stocks gone since 1950, but our tax dollars are helping accelerate the process:
Another cause of over-exploitation, [Marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia] Earle said, was billions of dollars governments spent subsidizing their fishing industries, trying to protect jobs and a way of life of communities. "But what is not realized is that when the fish have gone, the way of life will come to an end anyway. What's happening is not sustainable," she said.
In this time of persistently high unemployment it borders on heresy to question almost any government program that "saves jobs." But the unsustainable cannot be sustained, and such efforts only postpone the inevitable changes of restructuring, retraining and building new foundations that provide enduring jobs and community vitality. Those in the fishing industry don't want to hear it, but ignorance will be no more blissful in the end to them than it was to telephone operators, buffalo skinners, railroad workers or copy-making typists.

Economies change. Industries grow and die. Jobs, and workers, move and retrain. Communities adapt.

There's another industry that depends entirely on a diminishing resource that is getting progressively harder and more expensive to bring to market, and where we're hearing an awful lot lately about needing subsidies to save jobs.

Better to start now on building a lasting foundation for the future.

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