If anyone is surprised by the information in Bo Petersen's article, "Second punch of ocean acidification threatens Lowcountry," in the June 22 edition of The Post and Courier, I implore you to please contact me because I have a beautiful piece of beachfront land for sale "cheap" at Edingsville Beach, near Edisto Island, where you can enjoy the sounds of the surf lapping against the shoreline.
The clarion call from scientist has been sounded clearly since the 70s. Yet because of a certain mindset amongst the leadership and policy makers in this country and worldwide, the collective "we" continue the destiny march for domination of the earth.
Some say scientists don't know what they are talking about, and others still believe in fairy dust by thinking, I believe it therefore it is so.
But it does not take much knowledge to understand the fundamental workings of an ecosystem. Science class in grade school teaches the Krebs Cycle, now called the Food Web. You start with micro-organisms that supply food for zoo-plankton and phyto-plankton which in turn feeds the larvae etc. Then food moves up the food chain and eventually every creature has a share of the bounty, all the way to the top where Mary Lee, the great white shark recently seen offshore, gets her share.
I live on the marshes of the Wando. Ten years ago before the tremendous suburban sprawl out towards Highway 41 and beyond, the hard marsh near my house was full of fiddlers, marsh crabs and periwinkles. They are almost gone now. I have seen this happen before. I spend a lot of time walking around in the hard marsh, the transition zone between salt water and land. I witnessed a pristine river degraded to the point where shellfish were all but gone. The only obvious thing that happened to the river was 15 years of heavy development in the watershed.
In his article, Bo Petersen states, "It might be what scientists call the one-two punch of acidification and low oxygen in the estuaries, the nursery for the shellfish we eat - shrimp, oysters, clams."
In "The World of the Salt Marsh," Charles Seabrook, a John's Island native and environmental writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also talks about the low oxygen in the estuaries. He clearly tells the story of what we humans have done to one of the greatest ecosystems and breeding nurseries for the oceans that still exist anywhere on earth, though it is now in peril.
I believe the problem starts in your backyard. I see examples across a nearby pond. The yards are a perfect green extending all the way to the water's edge with not a single native species of plant in sight.
I will start by admitting that I am constantly receiving citations from my HOA because I allow the spring dandelions and other weeds to dominate my yard before the yard grass comes out of dormancy. I do this because I refuse to spread the fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides that dominate our perfection culture today. Walk into your local hardware or garden store and the message is strong. Kill the weeds! Kill the bugs! The message is pervasive and effective.
Well, guess what happens to all of those chemicals. Yep, they drain into the estuary as a veritable cauldron of a poisonous soup, and then they kill the mico-organisms and contribute to plant growth that causes algae bloom that robs the water of oxygen.
Recently, President Obama has taken the initiative to create the Pacific Ocean Preserve, a bold and powerful initiative. I suggest that the marshes that exist within the South Atlantic Bight (the shoreline scoop extending from North Carolina's Outer Banks to Cape Canaveral, Fla.) needs some protection as well, especially if we want to save the oceans and ultimately the earth's ecosystem. This maritime zone is an invaluable resource that should not be filled with parking lots, golf courses and suburban yards that dump chemicals into the estuaries.
I realize that we can't bulldoze the existing development along the coast, but we can make policies that limit the spread of coastal development and we can generate awareness of the effects of the herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers - the invisible killers. Do this as well as reduce obvious pollutants from industry, and then, maybe, the culture and people of this region can affect the course of fate.
Island Walk West
Mr. Fraser is an artist known for his painted landscapes of the Southeastern coastal region.