Professor Callum Roberts, whose book “An Unnatural History of the Sea” was such an influence on the film makers during production of Wild Ocean 3D (and subsequently became script advisor on that movie), has done it again: his new book “Ocean of Life” has just been published, and if you were to only read one book about the state of our seas, this has to be it. Callum skilfully brings together every aspect of man’s impact on the ocean, and he actually offers a way forward. Callum has a vision of the future that gives hope for the sea both as a group of interconnected ecosystems and as a resource for humanity.
Of particular interest to us is his chapter on Ocean Acidification: “Corrosive Seas”. He describes a moment at a meeting to discuss climate change in 1998 when Joanie Keyplas, an American reef expert, realise that by the end of the 21st century, seawater would be too corrosive to sustain coral reefs: “she excused herself and ran to the bathroom to be sick”. A Roland Emmerich disaster movie moment if ever there was one…
Callum also points out that acidification is a global problem and not exclusively a threat to tropical reefs: oyster farms off the coast of Oregon have shown how they can easily be disrupted by ph change, and the swarms of pteropods in the Arctic, fast food for whales, cod, salmon are particularly vulnerable to acidity.
Callum Roberts is a great advocate for preserving the environments that help refurbish the ocean, such as Marine Protected Areas, proven time and again to help replenish fish populations. Specifically regarding acidification: “It has been estimated” he writes, “that every year healthy salt marshes, mangroves and seagrass beds collectively remove carbon dioxide equivalent to half the emissions of the world transport network… so if you can do just one thing, protect the salt marshes and mangrove swamps!”