HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Saturday, April 08, 2006


The Last Days of the Ocean
VERY IMPORTANT HUGE SERIES (below) about the widespread destruction of ocean's fisheries in MOTHER JONES this month- worth buying issue though it's all online. Essentially we've wiped out the base algae eating fish that all other carnivorous fish eat- the oily foot-long menhaden (so thick when white man came that the ocean was carpeted by square miles of them that would stop the boats ("net loses" below). So the cod is gone, the swordfish almost gone, and most other Atlantic food fish badly hurting cause we cut off an essential rung of the food ladder at the bottom. Despite ever more boats and more countries, fish catch has been declining since 2000.

The only place menahaden still exist is Chesapeake Bay, but millions of tons are taken from there because it's the only place still legal. Now the nightmare protozoa/plant/parasite/ pfiesteria has infested almost all the striped bass in the Chesapeake, causing instant disintegration, open sores, like salmon after they spawn. (doesn't connect them in story-says due to hunger stress, but this is classic symptom of pfiesteria). Read a book in 97-98 about this almost space-alien like odd creature, created by the giant factory pig-farm shit ponds dumping into North Carolina estuaries, which causes Alzheimer's like memory loss and brain damage when people get hit with it swimming. The NC State U scientist Joann Bulkholder, who wrote the book (can't find it, but here's another), had a level 4 containment lab set up to analyze it (and had to struggle for 5 years to prove it, because the bizarre organism has 24 life stages and will also go quiescent for 2 years at bottom of river-bay), but the workmen put the air pumps in wrong and they were all contaminated and suffered lasting brain damage. The creature emits toxins so powerful it stuns or immobilizes the fish, then infests it and vampire-like consumes them. Now this nightmare is wiping everything out in Chesapeake in mass fish kills, the most fecund and productive bay on the planet, once largest oyster source (that's gone). First article is main ten page piece- Fate of Oceans.

The eskimoes of northern Greenland and Canada are so contaminated by man-made poisons (mercury, PCB, DDT, pesticides, brominated + chlorinated hydrocarbons) concentrated by the seals, whales, and fish they eat at 10-30 times above the safe limit- that the mother's breast milk is considered toxic to their children and has 20-50 times the level of a major city dweller. "Only 10 percent of all large fish (tuna, swordfish, marlin) and groundfish (cod, halibut, skate, and flounder) are left anywhere in the ocean. Fishing fleets kill an estimated 100 million sharks per year across the globe. In the Gulf of Mexico, the number of oceanic whitetip sharks has plunged 99 percent since the 1950s."

"But long before Katrina, the Gulf had become one of the world’s most polluted marine ecosystems, with mercury loads among the highest ever recorded, including levels in blue marlin 30 times above what the EPA deems safe."" Equally alarming, a sizable portion of the Gulf is so biologically dysfunctional on a seasonal basis that it’s known as a dead zone—the largest such area in the United States and the second largest on the planet, measuring nearly 8,000 square miles in 2001, an area larger than New Jersey. As these fertilizer-generated plankton die and settle to the bottom, they fuel a bloom of bacterial decomposers, which consume all the available oxygen in the water. The resulting condition is known as hypoxia —an annual summertime event in the warming waters of the Gulf since the 1970s. For sea life, it’s as if all the air were suddenly sucked out of the world. Close to 50 hypoxic zones fester on the coasts of the continental United States, affecting half of all our estuaries. The situation is worse in Europe, with 14 persistent dead zones that never go away, and almost 40 others occurring annually"

RI's Narragansett Bay suffered such a fate in 2001 when polluted runoff from storms massively poisoned the bay, causing a stinking millions-large fish kill in Greenwich Bay. The effects were much more long lasting- 4 1/2 billion mussels, in massive mid bay reefs were killed, enough that they could filter the entire Bay water in 20 days. The required time is 4-5 times longer now. They are building a huge 3 mile tunnel under Providence to hold storm/sewer runoff till it can be treated so these horrors don't happen again.

Meanwhile 1/3 of the coral around US Virgin Is. and Puerto Rico has died in last 4 months from warming and parasites(?), coral there to greet Columbus bleached bright white in the visual evidence of the devastation sweeping the oceans (Great Barrier has similar thing- apparently coral is very sensitive to temp. rises. big TIME warming series) . Part article below.

The Last Days of the Ocean
News: We're Pushing Our Seas to the Brink. Can They be Saved? A Mother Jones special report.

The Fate of the Ocean By Julia WhittyAssaulted by pollution, overfishing, climate change, trash, and noise, our oceans are approaching a point of no return. The health of the world they feed and protect won't be far behind. P L U S : Whales hit the beaches Polar bears face extinction

The Catch By Michael W. RobbinsIf America's fisheries are regulated, how can they be overfished? Because the regulators and the fishermen are one and the same.P L U S :Video: Mike Robbins talks fishery reform on
The ocean's top enemies A field guide to failing fish

Net Losses By H. Bruce Franklin How a football tycoon took George H. W. Bush's oil company and used it to declare war on the fish that built America.
Navigating the Catch of the Day By Daniel DuaneOverfishing...mercury...but they taste so good! How to eat fish

Caribbean Coral Suffers Record Death Mar 30, 10:17 PM (ET)By SETH BORENSTEIN

(AP) This Oct. 2005 photo provided by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows a...Full Image
WASHINGTON (AP) - A one-two punch of bleaching from record hot water followed by disease has killed ancient and delicate coral in the biggest loss of reefs scientists have ever seen in Caribbean waters.
Researchers from around the globe are scrambling to figure out the extent of the loss. Early conservative estimates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands find that about one-third of the coral in official monitoring sites has recently died.
"It's an unprecedented die-off," said National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller, who last week checked 40 stations in the Virgin Islands. "The mortality that we're seeing now is of the extremely slow-growing reef-building corals. These are corals that are the foundation of the reef ... We're talking colonies that were here when Columbus came by have died in the past three to four months."
Some of the devastated coral can never be replaced because it only grows the width of one dime a year, Miller said.

(AP) Graphic shows weeks of water heating for coral reef bleaching; two sizes: (AP Graphic) Full Image Coral reefs are the basis for a


A very important NOVA aired April 19th that pretty much proved that high altitude air pollution has blocked about 10% of the sunlight we normally would be receiving over the last 60 years. Most potent are the jet contrails that deposit particles that circulate in the low stratosphere for months, which they discovered in the 3 days after 9-11 when planes were grounded. The temps across the US went up 2 degrees F just from that. A more intensive analysis of world weather since about 1920 shows that that is roughly the amount that pollution is reducing the temperature (2-2 1/2 deg F) all over the world, about as much as it's gone up in the last 100 years. In fact the cooling is over half that of the total global heating, 54%, which means the real global warming (if the cooling were stopped from cleaning up pollution) is over twice what we see.

This finally explains why the temperature rises were so much smaller than expected, and showcases the extraordinary risk if this cooling were quickly stopped (from massive plane groundings from bankruptcies or gas prices or war). In fact, if this effect ceased we would be dealing with 50 million year hothouse effects, 5F rise by 2050, from 9-18F (5-10C) rise by the end of the century, enough to melt the ice caps and totally change the ecology of earth. Luckily the Chinese and Indians and US will continue to burn growing immense amounts of coal,
feeding the dimming effect, but also the warming effect. They also mentioned my point that methane, stored in millions of tons at the bottom of the oceans, is an 8 times more powerful global warming gas (and could be vastly set free from the rotting biomass in the melting tundra and in the oceans); and nitrogen oxides from every car are 3-4 times more potent. So electric cars would prevent global warming and ease the oil crunch in 3 different ways. Particulate pollution also cools by providing seed points for water droplets, which form in greater number and smaller size, thereby making clouds more reflective than with larger droplets.

Nice to see that evil civilization does provide competing forces to deleterious change, but still this is a breathtaking development in climate science, and worrying because pollution has been stabilized or is dropping in the last ten years, which could cause quick large warming effects.


For a pants pissing funny take on (audio) the Who's On First routine check out Harry Shearer from his Le Show NPR-web radio show. This has a conversation between Bush and Ahnold about Who (Hu Jintao), and When (Ho Lee), and (Michelle) We; and honestly believe it's better than the Lewis + Costello original (and not just saying that since he gave me a plug on his Huffington Post Blog). It's the sputtering Schwartznegger that does it. Shearer has been doing primo comedy for decades, inc. the Spinal Tap movie, several seasons on Sat. Night Live, and the voices of Mr. Burns, his assistant Smithers, Flanders, Skinner, and many others on The Simpsons, now the most successful comedy, or TV SHOW in history- 16 seasons and still going strong in 90 countries (made that up but sounds good). Met Hairy at a showing of his latest movie, and the crowd swooned when he started doing those voices. Here's another written take on Hu's on First.

Less funny is the Bush clowns charging that screeching Falun Gong journalist with "threatening/intimidating/coercing/harrassing a foreign leader" felony.. or as we used to call it, legitimate protest. They have to do this because they so humiliated the dictator by only giving him an offical visit, not a state one
; calling it the Republic of China, which is Taiwan, and dragging him off like an errant steer (Hu looked at Bush's hand on his sleeve like he wanted to pop him). She wrote for the Epoch Times, which is a very professionally produced foreign affairs/environmental mag funded by Sun Yung Moon? with Falun Gong connections. Only have seen it in the laundry, though.