Scientists warn us that all life in the sea is in jeopardy! This is not science fiction, but science forecast. As man's power to alter the environment grows greater, the scope of his destructive capacity includes the entire globe and staggers the imagination. Your Bible not only scooped the news of this mind-boggling prospect, but it also foretold the method, the means and the execution of the solution to the pollution of seventy percent of the earth's surface.
SPEAKING TO the peoples of modern United States and the British Commonwealth of nations, God levels this stinging rebuke: "Hear the word of the Lord, oh people of Israel, the Lord has filed a lawsuit against you listing the following charges: There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You swear and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing: it is filled with sadness and all living things grow sic4 and die: the animals, the birds and EVEN THE FISH BEGIN TO DISAPPEAR" (Hosea 4:1-3, Living Prophecies version). This is a vivid description of our MODERN 20TH-CENTURY WORLD! Who could deny the obvious connection between this prophecy and today's impending "terracide"? And when we speak of earth-death, we must consider the vast reaches of this globe that are covered by water. "If our planet were being studied from afar by intelligent beings somewhere in outer space,,, writes Seabrook Hull, author of The Bountiful Sea, "the single feature of Earth that would amaze them most would be the abundance of water — which they would be able to discern not only by spectroscope, but also by our planet's beautiful color as it sparkles fresh and clear like an aquamarine against diamond-studded black velvet." We live on an oceanic planet. Over seventy percent of the earth's surface is covered by ocean water. The ocean takes up an area of 140 million square miles with an average depth of two and one-half miles. There are at least 330 million cubic miles of sea water in the oceans today! Could such a gargantuan oceanic mass of water exist without asserting a tremendous influence on the earth? Could it exist without serving some purposes? What would happen if our oceans should die? Is this possibility too farfetched?
What If We Didn't Have the Ocean?
"Without the ocean to cool the tropics and warm the frigid climes, and to act as thermal balance wheel, this would be a harsh world indeed, with largely uninhabitable extremes of climate and sudden violent changes in the weather" (Seabrook Hull, The Bountiful Sea, page 81). Our ocean can be likened to a giant thermodynamic "flywheel" regulating and modifying the weather worldwide. This amazing feat is achieved through the commonest substance on earth — water! Of all the liquids and solids — except ammonia — water has the highest specific heat. That is — it has the greatest capacity to absorb heat with a minimum rise in temperature. Raising the temperature of the surface of the sea at any spot by only a few degrees represents a tremendous storage of heat. This great capacity means that a prodigious excess of heat can be stored in ocean waters for long periods of time without appreciably affecting the temperature of the lower atmosphere. Consider this illustration: If all the solar energy reaching the earth for two and a half years were used to heat up the ocean, it would add only about two degrees Fahrenheit to the ocean's average temperature. Such is the remarkable ability of oceanic water to absorb and store heat with little increase in its temperature. This heat, when stored, can be given off in winter or at some distant place (where the water may be transported by currents) if the air above the water at the second place is cooler than the sea. Obviously, then, great volumes of air can be heated with little reduction in the temperature of the water. Air is another remarkable medium to store as well as to give off heat. Together, the ocean and the atmosphere regulate the climate of the whole world.
Other Benefits of the Ocean
The ocean serves not just to regulate the earth's climate but to perform many other important functions as well. It is a source of the water that enters the atmosphere and forms our clouds, falls on our continents and returns by our rivers to the sea. Without the oceans there would be very little FRESH water on earth! Yet if the oceans were fresh water like rivers and lakes, they would be frozen solid most of the year-even in the tropics! Oceans also provide us with valuable food. This food is an excellent supplement to food from the land. Remember, "one way or another, the mineral wealth of the land gradually migrates to the sea" (Robert C. Cowan, Frontiers of the Sea, page 260). Many marine plants and animals can pick up some of the more valuable minerals, even though they may now occur in extremely diluted form. For example, iodine salts are so diluted in sea water that they scarcely show a trace in a chemical analysis. Yet algae can concentrate these diluted salts enough to be an economically valuable source of the element. Many minerals of the land can be reclaimed from the ocean via these living organisms.
While providing us with food, the ocean also supplies us with up to 70% of the oxygen of earth! This vital, life sustaining gas is produced by the "grass of the sea," phytoplanktons. Dr. La- Mont C. Cole of Cornell University warned that in some big cities 40% more oxygen is being used than the land is producing. This oxygen depletion has to be made up from somewhere. It comes from the ocean. Consequently, "if we should inadvertently kill enough marine diatoms or the organisms they depend on for fixed nitrogen, we would start running out of oxygen to breathe!" Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia, warned of an easier way to court disaster! He said that if a ship loaded with defoliant chemicals were to sink in a similar manner as the Torrey Canyon did off the British coast in 1967, the consequences of such an accident would be unimaginable! Phytoplankton, the major producer of oxygen, are particularly vulnerable to such an accident, because they inhabit the surface of the sea. The death of our ocean is more than a scientific fiction. It could happen!
A Second Death
Even if an accident does not happen, our oceans could still die — from slow, inevitable strangulation by pollution! Pollution began when man first failed to understand the real purpose of the ocean. Many have casually assumed that the ocean is supposed to be a receptacle of waste. Everyone can see that the ocean is a convenient garbage disposal site! Its water is plainly very corrosive. Irons and most steels, as you know, will rust in it. Aluminum will also corrode; so will magnesium, copper, brass and other metals. Old junk (like Roman villas, English castles, and Western saloons which were thrown into the sea by the Hollywood movie studios) is rendered indistinguishable. Man has long used the ocean as his garbage dump. Should our oceans be used for such a purpose? As long as the wastes were natural organic or inorganic refuse, and as long as they were in small enough quantity, not much harm was done. In fact, it could be argued that perhaps these wastes fertilized and possibly added to the productivity of the sea. But times have changed. The "chemical revolution" marked the beginning of a new era in history — the sewage revolution! The wastes are no longer just natural organic or inorganic refuse. "Now all kinds of new organic chemicals and poisons are being poured into the oceans" (Athelstan Spilhaus, The Ocean Laboratory, page 63). It is as if "the whole ocean receives the discharges of civilization in ever-increasing amounts and in ever-increasing complexities," lamented Dr. Edward D. Goldberg at the 1969 AAAS Convention at Dallas, Texas.
"Desert" in the Sea
A routine voyage of the Navy's Deepstar near Santa Catalina Island, in Southern California on December 4, 1966, made a shocking discovery. A layer of fine brown flocculent material was seen on the bottom just north of the island. Occasionally a dead fish or squid was seen. As the Navy vessel cruised along, some 3000 feet deep, nothing moved outside the craft. In another dive half a mile away they found the same dead underwater sea. Chemical analysis of the water showed that less than two milliliters of oxygen were dissolved in each liter of water. This is too little oxygen to support any kind of life. These poisoned and polluted waters, according to Dr. Bruce W. Halstead, marine biotoxicologist and Director of the World Life Research Institute, are the result of chemical waste being dumped into the water (Science News, March 4, 1967, page 218). This is a dramatic discovery. Who knows how many dead seas are waiting to be discovered?
Poisons from Industry
Industrial toxins may not always create such graveyards under the sea. Instead, they may become absorbed and reincarnated into the marine food web, and eventually find their way into our bodies via the food we eat! Mercury, used as a fungicide and as a catalyst in the chemical industry, for example, finds its way to the oceans at a rate of about 4000 tons per year. The lead from the combustion of lead tetraethyl in internal combustion engines also drifts oceanward. "Lead is now being deposited in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic at 50 times the normal rate of the past" (C. W. Mattison, Man and His Resources, page 57). Pesticides (primarily the chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT), chemical fertilizers and other chemicals used in agriculture also make their grand entry into the sea. Petroleum also smears the high sea. Every year two billion tons of petroleum are pumped out of the earth, half of which is shipped across the oceans. The loss through shipping amounts to one million tons annually. It does not require too many years to build up a sizable amount of petroleum in the sea! We have not even included the leakage of petroleum from the large and increasing number of drilling sites. Have we forgotten the tragedies of the Torrey Canyon and the oil leaks off the coast of Santa Barbara? Have we forgotten what ecological disasters they were? We have yet to mention the many radioactive wastes that find their way into the ocean. "If releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is man's biggest geophysical experiment, polluting the oceans with radioactive wastes could be his biggest geophysical mistake. Once introduced into the sea, radioactivity will be impossible to take out... radioactivity spread by ocean currents would be a global menace" (Robert C. Cowan, Frontier of the Sea, page 286). For a long time, it was believed that the world's ocean was too large to be adversely affected by man. This is no longer true today. Our oceans have become POLLUTED. We are accustomed to thinking of chemical reactions taking place within a few seconds, a few minutes, or at the most, a few days. But reaction time in the ocean takes place in terms of hundreds and even thousands of years. Listen to what Dr. Goldberg, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has to say: "The chemical invasion of the oceans by man involves time periods quite different from those encountered in terrestrial water systems. Where a river renews itself annually, lakes in periods of decades or centuries, the oceanic environment maintains its components for times order of magnitude greater. [The ocean takes more than many centuries to renew itself]. Present-day introductions of materials will be measured for many thousands of years in the future." In other words, what we dump into the ocean will be circulated throughout the entire mass of the ocean and its effect will continue to be felt. The mercury that we dump today, for example, not only will affect us right now, but also will affect our children and their children after them! Such is the way the ocean acts, because of its currents, which are capable of distributing any chemical far and wide, and because of the vastness of the ocean and its slow reaction time. Even if we stop polluting the Ocean TODAY, the harm that we have done will stay with us for many thousands of years to come! No man-made solution can ever cleanse the ocean. No wonder the Bible proclaims the only solution — the GOOD NEWS — that is workable without the factor of time.
The entire natural world — the sea, the land, and the air — groans in travail. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for," the Bible declared centuries ago, "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). This is the time when God will set up His government on earth. This heralds the era of the happy world tomorrow. This is the time of the "restitution of all things" — the restoration of God's KNOWLEDGE. God will solve the problem of oceanic pollution by performing a miracle. The book of Ezekiel provides details: "These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, SHALL LIVE: and there shall be a great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh" (Ezek. 47:8-9). That is the type of ocean we can look forward to: an ocean that functions perfectly to regulate the world's weather, to give us fresh water, oxygen, and a bountiful supply of nutritious foods; an ocean that we can swim in, travel on, admire; an ocean that will give us LIFE and not DEATH!