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Pollution Triples Mercury Levels In Ocean Surface Waters, Study Finds

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http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/06/pollution-triples-mercury-levels-oceans

The amount of mercury near the surface of many of the world’s oceans has tripled as the result of our polluting activities, a new study has found, with potentially damaging implications for marine life as the result of the accumulation of the toxic metal.

Mercury is accumulating in the surface layers of the seas faster than in the deep ocean, as we pour the element into the atmosphere and seas from a variety of sources, including mines, coal-fired power plants and sewage. Mercury is toxic to humans and marine life, and accumulates in our bodies over time as we are exposed to sources of it.

Since the industrial revolution, we have tripled the mercury content of shallow ocean layers, according to the letter published in the peer-review journal Nature on Thursday. Mercury can be widely dispersed across the globe when it is deposited in water and the air, the authors said, so even parts of the globe remote from industrial sources can quickly suffer elevated levels of the toxic material.

For several years, scientists have warned that pregnant women and small children should limit their consumption of certain fish, including swordfish and king mackerel, because toxic metals including mercury and lead have been accumulating in these species to a degree that made their over-consumption dangerous to human health. Pregnant women are particularly at risk because the metals can accumulate in the growing foetus, and in sufficient quantities can cause serious developmental disorders.

Currently reading Jarred Diamonds Collapse. One of the arguments he makes for the collapse of societies is environmental damage ie deforestation, droughts etc... which leads to a decrease in food production which is then unable to sustain the population. He states that people don't realise what's happening until its too late as they have enough food until they don't.

Are we slowly destroying the planet that sustains us for short term economic gain at the expense of the future?

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Out of sight and out of mind, to many the sea appears a flat, blue, infinite surface.

We overfish it

We dump trash in it,

We pour pollutants into it - everything ends up in it eventually, whether chucked overboard from a ship or poured down your drain.

We heat it up

We acidify it

Like everything natural, we abuse it

Yet the seas and the life within them are a major influence upon all life on Earth and Earth's geological cycles, which created the conditions for our development and upon which our economic development depends.

We abuse it at our peril

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