Sunday, June 5, 2011

World Environment Day

Last supper? Plates of fish in La Nieves market. A recent study says that Colombia's marine fish populations are near collapse from overfishing. 
Today is World Environment Day, and the news isn't good. The production of climate change gases rose to record levels last year, despite the world's economic troubles.

Scientists predict that global warm will eliminate Colombia's high-elevation wetlands within a few decades - which will cause wrenching changes in the nation's water supply.

Abundance, but for how long?
More immediately, this story in El Tiempo reports that fish populations off of Colombia's Pacific Coast are near collapse. Overfishing is, tragically, a worldwide problem and a classic case of the 'tragedy of the commons.' Since most of the world's oceans are held in common and many marine creatures migrate from one region to another, it's in everybody's interest is to grab all they can, using destructive methods such as trawling - at least in the short term. Until nothing's left for anybody, and it's too late. 

Marine ecology suffers from being out of more of most of our sight, and therefore out of mind. As long as the markets remain full of fish and shrimp, we assume there's abundance. But those fish may be coming from further and further away, out of increasingly scarce populations.

El Tiempo reports that Colombia harvests some 100 tons of marine resources each year - and that consumption will double in the next 20 years. Where will those fish and shrimp come from? Perhaps from fish farms. More importantly, we should ask where the fish the Chinese and Indians will eat will come from in 20 years.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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