Get news updates from WGBH
Fri August 17, 2012
Week in Review: Ocean Health Index, and a Few Surprises
If last week was all about Mars, this week is all about the ocean.
The top story is a new Ocean Health Index. An international team of scientists (including Scott Doney of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .. working on getting him on Living Lab in the next few weeks) evaluated 171 coastal areas around the globe on the grounds of ten human goals - things like fishing opportunities, clean water, food provision, and sense of place. When the task of boiling the immense complexity of ocean ecology down to a single number was complete, the result was .. drumroll, please .. 60 out of a possible 100. We've all been to school and can do the translation. That's barely a passing grade. So plenty of room for improvement.
Case in point: a (different) study released this week confirmed what many have suspected: that noise from human activities, primarily shipping, is significantly impairing whales' ability to communicate with one another.
While this week was the official release of the Ocean Health Index, Pacific Standard (nee Miller McCune) ran a great series of articles on the need for and making of the Index last year:
- The Making of the Ocean Health Index
- Ocean Index Navigates Between the Politic, the Pristine
- Setting Targets in the Ocean Health Index
- Three Reasons for Creating a Single Ocean Health Index
- Ocean Health Index Accounts for Human Benefits
- Ocean Health Index: The Audacity of Necessity
In other news, the FAA ruled (again) that Cape Wind's 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound would not pose a threat to aviation, removing the last regulatory hurdle facing the beleaguered project. That wasn't too much of a surprise, but a few other stories raised eyebrows - like the fact that carbon dioxide emissions in U.S. drop to 20-year low or that cod stocks off Newfoundland look stronger than they have in two decades. And while shark sightings off the outer Cape have become almost commonplace, a shark sighted in Cape Cod Bay was "unusual" enough to make headlines.