The Beacon

A sea of stats

Perhaps because it was released the same week as Ben Halpern and colleagues' excellent human impacts map, the new U.N. report "In Dead Water" has been met with little fanfare. It's too bad, because the report is a natural complement to the scientists' graphic illustration of the intersection between humans and the seas.

"In Dead Water" takes a big-picture look at the five primary threats facing the oceans: pollution, climate change, overfishing, invasive species, and habitat loss. You can download the report here (warning - PDF); I plucked out some of its major findings in an oceanic ode to the Harper's Index. With apologies to Lewis Lapham, of course.

Percentage of the ocean that produces half the world's catch: 10

People, in billions, who rely on fish as a primary source of protein: 2.6

Maximum percentage of coral reefs that could suffer from annual bleaching by 2080: 100

Minimum percentage of marine pollution that originates from land-based sources: 80

Minimum percentage of major fishing grounds that could be affected by climate change: 75

Expected factor of growth in the number of coastal tourists by 2010: 2

 Percent change in number of oceanic dead zones between 2003 and 2006: +34

 Percentage of seamount habitat loss that can be attributed to bottom trawling: 95

 Percentage of seafood species that are fished at or beyond their capacity: 80


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