A report published last week in the journal “Science” blames expansion of the container-shipping industry for helping to disrupt ocean ecosystems to the point where mass extinction of sea life soon could occur.
Containership collisions with whales are among six key events contributing to destructive habitat changes, the report states.
The report does not give specific numbers for whale deaths resulting from such collisions, but says the threat increases as more ships traverse the oceans. Container shipping worldwide has increased from the transport of about 376 million 20-foot containers in 2005 to more than 601 million in 2012.
The Port of Charleston experienced an 11.7 percent year-over-year increase in container volume during the first 11 months of last year — the most recent numbers available — to about 1.7 million 20-foot containers.
“Humans have profoundly decreased the abundance of both large (e.g., whales) and small (e.g., anchovies) marine fauna,” the report states. “Such declines can generate waves of ecological change that travel both up and down marine food webs and can alter ocean ecosystem functioning.”
Other events affecting ocean habitats include: the loss of coral cover and mangrove areas; the growing number of marine wind turbines; an increase in seabed mining; and the growth of low-oxygen “dead zones,” where marine life can no longer be supported.
“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” Douglas J. McCauley — an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the research — told The New York Times last week.
Among the possible solutions: limiting harmful activities to specific ocean regions to give other areas time to recover.
Despite the report’s warnings, its authors say there is still time to turn things around.
“The next several decades will be those in which we choose the fate of the future of marine wildlife,” the report states.
SCANA Corp. and its subsidiaries, including gas and electric utility SCE&G, paid approximately $176 million in property taxes in South Carolina for property assessed in 2014, the Cayce-based company said last week.
“These dollars help support schools, police, fire and other critical public services and have a significant impact in the communities we serve,” SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower said in a statement.
The largest single tax payment — about $33.9 million — was made to Lexington County.
SCANA also paid $15.5 million to Charleston County, $7.5 million to Berkeley County and $5.4 million to Dorchester County.
Boeing Co. last week announced that Air Europa has ordered 14 787-9 Dreamliners valued at $3.6 billion — the largest-ever widebody order from a Spanish air carrier.
Air Europa now has a combined total of 22 787-8s and 787-9s on order as it continues its transition to an all-Boeing long-haul fleet. The first of the Dreamliners — which are built at Boeing’s North Charleston campus and in Everett, Wash. — will arrive in 2016.
Based at Palma de Mallorca Airport, with a key hub at Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas airport, Air Europa has grown to be one of the largest airlines in Spain serving more than 40 destinations across Europe and the Americas.
Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_