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Like Seafood? Enjoy it now: Commercial seafood set to disappear from oceans in 2048

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Both scientists and economists are concerned that commercial seafood harvesting may end within three decades.

This story first appeared at AlterNet.

A prominent marine research ecologist says that commercial seafood could disappear from our oceans within the next three decades if humans don’t take action immediately.

Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada said the oceans are quickly losing biodiversity and that nearly 30% of seafood species humans consume are already too small to harvest. If the long-term trend continues, there will be little or no seafood available for a sustainable harvest by 2048.

Dr. Worm’s study was recently published in the journal Science and is an update of a study published in 2006. Importantly, the study is about the collapse of commercial catches, not species extinction. Catch collapse means that fish are caught at 10% or less of the rate they had been caught historically.

Several media outlets have incorrectly stated that the study warns all seafood will be gone from the oceans. CBS News, for example, reported that “the apocalypse has a new date: 2048” and that the oceans would be empty of fish at that time. To our knowledge, the television network has not issued a retraction.

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“We never said that,” says Dr. Worm. “We never talked about extinction. We talked about the collapse of the commercial catches.”

Still, Worm and his international team of scientists and economists say that catch collapses paint a grim picture for the ocean and for human health. The accelerated loss of biodiversity, they say, is imperiled by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss and climate change. Saltwater ecosystems, including human populations that depend on it for survival, can be adversely affected by dwindling populations. Harmful algae blooms, coastal flooding and poor water quality can be the results of reduced fish populations.

“Biodiversity is a finite resource, and we are going to end up with nothing left…if nothing changes,” says Worm.

The updated study points out that it’s not too late to change, however. Areas can be managed for improved biodiversity and recovery is possible. In areas of the world where action has been taken to protect marine species, there have been notably positive results.

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The problem is already affecting the U.S. seafood industry. Scientists are urging a moratorium on cold water shrimp harvesting in the Gulf of Maine as rising ocean temperatures threaten populations of the tiny crustaceans. This is the second straight season researchers have urged that the netting of northern shrimp be halted.

The northern shrimp catch in Maine has been falling in recent years, as it has in neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts. However, it is estimated that some 85-90% of the northern shrimp caught in the Gulf of Maine are brought in by Maine boats. In 2010, Maine caught more than 12 million pounds, but the catch has declined by a factor of 14; less than 600,000 pounds were caught last year, according to the state of Maine. The shrimp harvest averaged some 25 million pounds a year from 1969 to 1972.

Those involved in the regional fishing industry are noticing a sharp decline in the population and are worried. Glen Libby, a shrimp processor and former fisherman, told the Portland Press Herald that the 2013 season was a bust and fishermen are finding few shrimp in their nets over the summer. He said it’s “probably is a good idea to give the fishery time to recover.”

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A historian explains why 2019 marks the beginning of the next 74-year cycle of American history

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A century ago, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. argued that history occurs in cycles. His son, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., furthered this theory in his own scholarship. As I reflect on Schlesinger’s work and the history of the United States, it seems clear to me that American history has three 74-year-long cycles. America has had four major crisis turning points, each 74 years apart, from the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to today.

The first such crisis occurred when the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia in 1787 to face the reality that the government created by the Articles of Confederation was failing. There was a dire need for a new Constitution and a guarantee of a Bill of Rights to save the American Republic. The founding fathers, under the leadership of George Washington, were equal to the task and the American experiment successfully survived the crisis.

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Self-preservation fuels the Democratic base’s lurch to the left — before the rich take it all

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In 2016 all the corporate news media outlets, NPR included, predicted that Trump would lose. They just did not recognize the discontent in America’s rust belt because the economic dislocation that had, and continues to define life there, was just not part of their personal frame of reference.

They thought the country was several years into a recovery and the national aggregate unemployment data they had commissioned confirmed it. But nobody lives or votes in the aggregate. And it wasn’t until Trump flipped the 200 counties that Obama had carried twice, that the corporate news media started paying some attention.

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Experts discuss the distorted impeachment debate at a propaganda forum — and how real debate can untangle it

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“Would you be upset if the Democratic nominee called on China to help in the next presidential election?” That’s the concrete question we should ask ourselves about Robert Mueller's report and the issue of impeachment, according to University of California, Santa Cruz, social psychologist Anthony Pratkanis, speaking at a recent Zócalo Public Square event, “Is Propaganda Keeping Americans From Thinking for Themselves?

This was a week before President Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, apparently welcoming foreign interference in the 2020 election. Impeachment wasn’t the ostensible subject of the event — which also featured Texas A&M historian of rhetoric Jennifer Mercieca and UCLA marketing scholar and psychologist Hal Hershfield — but it was never far from mind.

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