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UN Warns: Sewage Threatens Seas and Oceans; Human Health and Marine Life 'at Risk'

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Coastal populations and a rising tide of sewage are threatening the world’s seas and oceans. “The marine pollution is putting at risk human health and marine life,” a U.N. report issued from The Hague yesterday says.

The report stated than an estimated 80 percent of marine pollution originates from the land, and this number could rise significantly by 2050.

The report, prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), points out that the problem affects developing countries in particular because the struggle against pollution has such high costs.

The report titled “State of the Marine Environment” presented by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, says good progress has been achieved in three of nine “key criteria.”

Oil pollution is among these three areas.

The report says “worse” progress is being registered in four areas, and wastewater and marine litter are cited among these.

The rise is linked to nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—coming from sources such as agricultural fertilizer run off; manure; sewage and fossil fuel burning, and this can lead to wild and farmed fish kills; the degradation of sea grass beds and coral reefs and toxic algal blooms, the report states.

The report says levels of pollution differ from region to region. There is progress in the Northeast Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea, but concern remains in places including the Southeastern Pacific and the Caspian Sea, where an estimated 17 tones of mercury and nearly 150 tones of cadmium are discharged annually.

The average population density in the coastal zone will rise from 77 people per square kilometer in 1990 to 115 in 2025, the U.N. report says.

This shows that growth, in terms of more settlements, overuse of marine resources, pollution and damage and loss of ecosystems, is having a serious impact.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

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At first glance, establishing a focus on Water & Sewerage Management for 2008 seems excellent. The list of lobbyists and an overview of proposed objectives take the gloss away from this venture. Many lobbyists come from massively over-populated but water rich countries in Europe. It is possible that the cholera outbreaks in Africa may have been caused deliberately. People in Africa, Australia and Asia have known how to recycle their sewerage for millennia. The introduction of European concrete-based sewerage technology may well be an environmental disaster of global proportions. The Scientific American has been reporting since March 2006 that carbon dioxide is making the oceans ever more acidic. They report that shell fish now find it so difficult to form their shells that humanity's food chain may be broken. In Australia, rivers and wetlands are becoming as acidic as the acid in car batteries. Continental drying appears to be the main cause, as potable water is drained from the land, exposing an acidic underbelly. Sewerage and fertilizers exacerbate oceanic problems. Promoting systems that force more sewerage into rivers and oceans may enrich suppliers but appears to be environmentally counterproductive. It may well be that traditional toilets and traditional biotechnological ways of sewerage disposal are better than Europe’s concrete monstrosities. Europe can learn from biotechnology that has been successful for millennia.
   comment# 1   - David Allen · Sydney, Australia · Dec 25, 2008 @ 10:11pm
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