Roger Bradbury is an Australian ecologist with an apocalyptic Op-Ed in the NYTimes:
Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion.
They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation.
Bradbury claims we need to give up hope and immediately start funding research to find a solution, because when the reefs collapse, many of the world’s poor are going to starve if they don’t find a new way of feeding themselves. But that’s just the start of the changes, Bradbury concludes:
Coral reefs will be the first, but certainly not the last, major ecosystem to succumb to the Anthropocene — the new geological epoch now emerging. That is why we need an enormous reallocation of research, government and environmental effort to understand what has happened so we can respond the next time we face a disaster of this magnitude. It will be no bad thing to learn how to do such ecological engineering now.
If you are not familiar with the word Anthropocene (and I wasn’t til now) it is a sort of new world order in which man’s actions alter the Earth, and hopefully we can engineer it – not to save the reefs but to perhaps save humanity.
But what are we? There are types of humanity that must also be zombie forms, for example the mind of the poor fisherman – whole worldviews will cease to exist like the reefs, they are already dead, obsolete forms of human cultures. It is not just the fish’s ecosystem, we are all part of the same ecology, an ecosystem that is dead already. And the same as the zombie economy, talk of hope is obscuring development of whatever comes next.