JAN 28, 2020 8:58 AM PST

Humans Causing "Blue Acceleration" on Ocean Resources

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Humans have depended on ocean resources for centuries. However, a recent analysis of the state of the ocean showed a sharp acceleration in human pressures at the beginning of the 21st century. A new study from researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University has quantified this amount of human pressure. They’re calling it “the blue acceleration” defined as, “a race among diverse and often competing interests for ocean food, material, and space.”

In an article from the Stockholm Resilience Centre regarding the study, lead author Jean-Baptiste Jouffray said, “claiming ocean resources and space is not new to humanity, but the extent, intensity, and diversity of today’s aspirations are unprecedented.” The effects of blue acceleration result in destructive ocean changes such as ocean acidification, marine heating, coral reef destruction, and plastic pollution. According to the study, the blue acceleration is already showing significant social and ecological consequences “from the shoreline to the deep sea.”

The results of this comprehensive analysis were recently published in the journal One Earth. To assess the scope of human pressures on the ocean, the research team analyzed fifty years’ worth of data from shipping, drilling, deep-sea mining, aquaculture, bioprospecting, and other marine industries. Viewed through the lens of ocean “claims,” the researchers were able to summarize their findings based on humanity’s three fundamental needs: space, food, and material. A vital material from the ocean is oil, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total ocean economy. Sand and gravel are mineral materials also in high demand, due to the rise in the construction industry.

While placing claims to food, materials, and space of the ocean is not a new concept, the research team states that the current rate of placing these claims is “unfolding with unprecedented diversity and intensity.” Additionally, as the blue acceleration quickens, it leads to a “range of synergistic, antagonistic, and additive interactions between claims.”

According to the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the authors conclude their study by focusing on who is driving the blue acceleration, who or what is financing it, and who is benefiting from it. The research team hopes that the United Nations’ “decade of the ocean” starting in 2021 will be an opportunity to assess the impacts of blue acceleration and plan for long-term sustainability.

Sources: Stockholm Resilience Centre, One Earth
 

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
DEC 09, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 09, 2019
Can Scientists Revive the Northern White Rhino Population?
The Northern white rhino is already on the brink of extinction with just two living females in the world today. Sudan, the last surviving male of the speci...
JAN 06, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 06, 2020
Microbes May Offset Some of the Negative Impacts of Ocean Microplastics
About 70 percent of the trash in the ocean is made of plastic. There is so much plastic in our oceans, it's thought to have entered our food chain....
JAN 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 22, 2020
Repeated flooding accelerates levee breaking points
New research published in Engineering and Biology shows that repeated instances of flooding have dangerous and often invisible effects on levees. The study...
JAN 26, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 26, 2020
The Life of an Arctic Squirrel
There is no overstating the fact that the Arctic Tundra is a cold and unforgiving place. There are few plants or animals that can survive in this extremely...
FEB 02, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 02, 2020
Land use in the tropics: what we could do better
Research published recently in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution reports that our collective misuse of tropical lands is negatively impacting the...
FEB 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 09, 2020
Lightning Strike Kills Four Endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda
While perusing the confines of the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda earlier this month, a team of conservationists were unlucky enough to discover four dec...
Loading Comments...