By Tim Studt, Editor in Chief
I often wonder what Jacques Cousteau would say about the state of affairs of the world’s oceans. What would he think about the floating islands of plastic garbage in the Pacific twice the size of Texas, or about rapid ocean acidification linked to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, or about changing ocean currents because of melting icecaps and glaciers, or about BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? These are all concerns that either didn’t exist to any major degree or weren’t even considered more than 13 years ago when Cousteau died at the age of 87.
Cousteau was the preeminent ecologist, scientist, innovator and researcher of the world’s oceans in the 20th century. Other than his sons, there was no one who even came close to capturing the attention and minds of the world about the sea, its beauty, its breadth and its fragility. And there has been no one since him to pick up that standard.
My very first job following graduation from Illinois Institute of Technology was to work on ocean research for Westinghouse Electric Corp. in its Chesapeake Bay facility near Annapolis, Md. My job involved the design of electronic control systems for U.S. Navy submersibles and as such I followed with interest the state of affairs of ocean research.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve watched with dismay as ocean research has been mostly neglected by the U.S. Federal Government. We now find ourselves surrounded by environmental problems that we don’t know how to solve or what their effects will even bring. If nothing else, the Deepwater Horizon situation has been a call to arms that we have problems in the ocean that we need to know more about—we need more ocean research!
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