Publication Detail

The Health of the Ocean, or Boston Harbor is Not the Sargasso Sea

John A. Knauss
10 pp.
MITSG 90-24

In this 18th annual MIT Sea Grant Lecture, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contrasts the impact of pollution on coastal areas and small, enclosed oceans with that in planet-spanning oceans like the open Pacific; `one must be wary of any generalization about the oceans and their health.' Knauss argues that anthropogenic influences are diluted by the vast amount of water. However, while a natural flow of debris and erosional products from land into the oceans has proceeded for millions of years, human activity has suddenly changed the natural balance. Knauss argues that our understanding of the ocean is insufficient to always distinguish between natural and anthropogenic effects. In order to study these effects, he suggests that discrete zones, larger than estuaries, smaller than ocean basins, each of which can be closely monitored over time, could be established. Regardless of the apparent health of our larger oceans, our coastal zones are ailing even as we debate the impact of our activities.

type: Workshops, proceedings, symposia

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