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(Nature World News)   Good news, everybody. There are 10x the number of mid-depth fish in the sea as we thought. That means there is a possible mate for everybody, except Zoidberg, who will die alone in a non-Dumpster brand garbage bin. And of course, TotalFarkers   ( divider line
    More: Spiffy, Zoidberg, water column, global ocean, Spanish National Research Council, Nature Communications, garbage bins  
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4471 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 Feb 2014 at 4:57 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2014-02-08 05:01:36 PM  
5 votes:

whistleridge: Wait, I'm confused. So does this still mean we're on track for salt-water fish extinction by 2040, or not?

Probably not. The nice thing about science is that when you come across evidence disproving a hypothesis, you discard the hypothesis, not the evidence. Religion works the other way around.
2014-02-08 11:23:53 PM  
1 vote:
We've fished out 95% of the large fish in the top layer (0 to 200 meters) of the ocean. Our estimates of how many fish are in the meso-pelagic layer was based on trawler catches, which are biased because a lot of mess-pelagic fish can escape from trawler nets because they "see them coming" with motion sensors and take evasive action. This is good news because we have not yet fished out the middle depths and because they are more resilient than we thought.

(Not that we aren't trying to fish them out too. Orange roughy, for example, is a mid-ocean fish. They were believed to rare and thus likely to collapse soon, but are probably more numerous than we thought.)

Fish, whales and other animals that dive during the day take water with them and help to mix the top waters with the lower waters. They also feed near the surface and take down carbon in the form of their bodies. This is one way the oceans have been buffering CO2 levels. Rather than making the oceans more acidic (which happens when the CO2 is absorbed directly by the water, becoming carbonic acid), this form of absorption is a type of sequestration because as the fish die they sink even deeper and take the carbon to the bottom layer of the ocean where food is even more scarce. It gradually ends up in the sediment and is slowly turned to limestone.

This helps to explain why CO2 levels are lower in the atmosphere than our emissions alone would cause them to be, and also may be another reason why the last 16 years have not seen the same rise in CO2 and temperatures that the previous twenty or thirty years saw.

Rather than contradicting each other, scientific studies refine our understanding of the world, but poor science writing and spin by denialists, anti-science lobbyists and others will attach themselves to apparent contradictions and partial or inaccurate understandings of the facts.

As we understand the interconnectedness of the ecology better, we have good news and bad news because we learn of mechanisms that mitigate damage while we learn that we are damaging even those mechanisms.

In this case, it's good that the mesopelagic fish stocks are sturdier than we thought because as it was, we seemed to be fishing them out an even greater rate than we fished out the upper oceans (in about one century), almost causing the extinction of whales (still many species of which are endangered) and reducing the size of fish we catch from huge to something a child could reel in.

Our scientific ignorance constant grows less through such studies, but some people willfully surround themselves with ignorance the way a disturbed slime hagfish surrounds itself with a bucket's worth of slime. Denialism is part wishful thinking and part aggressive propaganda to defend errors and crimes against criticism. Every industry spends millions to generate positive "news" and to create FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Denial). The tobacco industry is the model and the source of much of today's denial. In fact, it was a tobacco executive who created the acronym FUD and who taught the practice to many others.

Science is one area where it really pays to think things through. Yes, there is a lot of BS as University departments issue press releases, and journalists who are hostile to facts and logic savage them, but most of the BS is coming from governments and corporations. The politicians are easily captured by Big Money as are some of the scientists. Most scientists, like most journalists, like to believe in the pure and honest pursuit of truth, and many of them do their best, but there's a large opposition to the acceptance of scientific facts and theories consisting of religion, political ideologies, and so forth.

Conservative religion (creationists, for example) are joined in the trashing of science by left wing religion and ideologies (feminism, radicalism, even environmentalism of the political kind), so it's not all one-sided. But on the whole, you have to be skeptical and very thoughtful to place a science article and the science behind it in the proper context and evaluate its accuracy, importance and meaning correctly.
2014-02-08 06:07:33 PM  
1 vote:

common sense is an oxymoron: That Guy...From That Show!: Suckit global warming deniers, now that we suddenly have many more fish removing CO2 from the atmosphere you'll see this explains why what we're saying is true because of weather changes that will keep happening.

A poor troll using even worse science, but someone might actually believe it...

The fish have always been there; we just discovered them recently. One piece of the carbon cycle is more significant than we thought, but the rates at which atmospheric carbon and oceanic acidity are increasing haven't changed because of this discovery. What has changed is that the effects of depleted fish populations can be expected to be more severe than previously forecast, the forecast having to be adjusted to account for the loss of more carbon-shiatting fish than we previously thought existed.

EXACTLY.  Before this the global warming deniers argued that our evidence about there being less fish wasn't valid because there were thought to be more fish.  But now, we've got em because we say that more fish than less means it's worse anyway.   No matter which, less fish or more fish, the deniers lose.
2014-02-08 05:26:50 PM  
1 vote:
I'm too tired to read the article, but based on the headline I have a question.

Does this mean there were 10x the number of fish 30 years ago?

Is it just a matter of relabeling the y-axis on a graph showing fish population throuoghout the years?

And nobody told me about this fish extinction by 2040 either.  I may have to start hoarding cans of anchovies.  They might be valuable one day.
2014-02-08 05:08:50 PM  
1 vote:
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2014-02-08 04:57:15 PM  
1 vote:
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