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All life on Earth depends upon the Oceans, and they may be dead in 25 years

Goes Foundation – throwing a lifeline to the ocean.

 All life on Earth depends upon the Oceans, and they may be dead in 25 years


The GOES Foundation team welcomed the recent IPCC report urging both governments and citizens to take urgent action on reducing carbon emissions, BUT the GOES Team believe emissions reduction won’t address climate change quickly enough and it doesn’t deal with the root cause of our climate crisis.  Here’s why …

We all now know that carbon reduction will not happen on a global scale for another 20 years; if we are lucky – 20 years! That is too late to stop a 2 to 4 deg C temperature increase.  However, emission reduction is only one of the actions we can take to mitigate Climate Change.  The GOES team are working to demonstrate how across the globe action is and needs to be taken on chemical pollution to address climate change and the imminent threat of losing species, especially those which make our oxygen and actually sequester our carbon – specifically plankton – an aspect of the big planetary climate system on which everything depends, has been almost completely ignored.


 It is the plankton, the planet’s lungs, which breathes in 50% of our CO2 makes 70% of our oxygen. Over the last 50 years we have lost 50% of the plankton – and it continues to decline at a rate of 1 % year on year.  That means in 25 years we will have lost 80% of our plankton! 


The loss of species diversity on land and plankton productivity in the oceans is often blamed on climate change or loss of habitat. It was recently reported flying insects in Europe have declined by 80% and continue to do so at a rate of 1% a year.  Without innovation, agriculture will likely fail on a global scale.  The GOES team considers the loss of insects and planktonic organisms is due to the widespread and over use of pesticides, polymer soil conditioners and toxic chemicals such as PFAS (e.g. Teflon) which are considerably more toxic than asbestos.


It’s time to reframe and extend our view of climate change mechanisms

We have lost 50% of primary productivity (carbon absorbing/oxygen making capability) over the last 50 years –

 has this been due to Climate Change or has the loss of all this plankton productivity contributed to climate change? 


For sure, all our carbon is impacting on the planet’s increasing temperature.  Plants on land and in the ocean love carbon dioxide and rather than their decline, -we should have expected an explosion in the numbers, but this has not happened.  The reverse has happened on a massive scale and we now realize that toxic chemicals in our personal care and cleaning products, get mixed into the top layer of the ocean, attached to micro-plastics, and are killing the coral and the critical biodiversity of our oceans.


Let’s take one example - Oxybenzone - used in literally thousands of products from lipsticks, shampoos etc etc used also as an ingredient in sun-cream.  It is however toxic at 62 parts per trillion, but new evidence suggest that it is toxic at 10ppt.  Adsorbed onto micro and nano-plastics , it is concentrated many thousands of times. These tiny plastic particles are taken in by corals and planktonic plants and protists.  These particles can make their ways through cell membranes and deliver a high dose of the lethal oxybenzone – incredibly toxic and literally causing devastation of our fundamental earth systems that keep the planet’s climate in check.


If, as the new evidence suggests, that oxybenzone is toxic at just 10 ppt,  only 13,000 tonnes is needed to reach a 10ppt concentration in all the world’s oceans! Every year we have a global production of over 20,000 tonnes being used in everything from cosmetics, personal care products, sunscreens, or as UV stabilizer in plastics.  So many toxic chemicals, like oxybenzone, along with microplastics pass straight through municipal wastewater treatment systems and end up in rivers and the oceans.  


The oceans should already be dead.  We are witness already to a 50% decline of plankton, and the remaining 50% dying at a rate of 1% year on year.  It is important to remember that plankton make up the largest biomass on the planet, so the volumes we are talking about are in the magnitude of the hundreds of millions of tonnes.  Fewer plankton means less carbon dioxide is being used, and less oxygen produced.   Carbon dioxide is, as we know, accumulating in the surface water, making it more acidic and this self-reinforcing system that is accelerating.

What is saving the oceans, and probably our climate, are the hundreds of thousand tonnes of dead skeletons of planktonic snow which absorb and ‘scrubs clean’ the oceans of these toxins and fall into the Abyss.  Some of the oxybenzone and other pollutants may be metabolized by bacteria or degraded by free radicals, but the level of pollution is out-stripping the oceans capability to sustain this cleaning mechanism and its ability to sequester CO2.


If we don’t stop polluting the oceans with toxic chemicals, we’ll reach  pH 7.95 in 25 years (IPCC) – it is known that at this pH there will be a trophic cascade collapse of the entire marine ecosystem – we will lose most of our whales, dolphins, birds and fish, and all we’ll have left is a toxic soup of bacteria, protists and jellyfish.


We need to thrown the oceans a lifeline and stop ignoring planktonic life…..

Life on earth will become impossible without plankton, we will have run away climate change because the plankton mechanism that removes carbon dioxide will have been destroyed, and there will be NO way of stopping it….. plankton really do act as the lungs of the planet and are the biggest biomass  playing a critical and crucial role in controlling our climate. 


If we had not killed more than 50% of the plankton over the last 50 years, our oxygen levels would not be dropping, and we may not have a climate change problem, or at least it would it would have been more manageable. Climate change is therefore not just directly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, if we stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, then the process will slow down but we will still crash the ocean ecosystem and have run-away climate change.  The only hope for the survival of the oceans and humanity is if we stop polluting our oceans, air, rivers and land with toxic chemicals, and we have to achieve this task over the next 10 years, or it will be too late to prevent oceanic pH dropping to 7.95.


So what can you do today? 

  1. Individually we can stop using sun creme, cleaning products or cosmetics containing Oxybenzone, triclosan a list of products are detailed on
  2. Governments must regulate and place an immediate ban on all lipid soluble hydrophobic toxic chemicals
  3. Industry that manufacture toxic chemicals must stop or pay the price for remediation – we need to ensure stock piles don’t make it into other products
  4. Effluent treatment systems must be re-engineered to increase residence time to at least 5 days for the biological process. All effluent plants must be fitted with tertiary treatment or a means that insure zero discharge of priority chemicals and substances from the treated water and sludge.
  5. We must stop burning trees, destroying wetlands and marsh lands and we have to start planting trees on a massive scale.


Throw a lifeline today – we only have 10 years to get the systems in place and change behavior or the survival of humanity is in jeopardy

About the author

Dr. Howard Dryden

Dr. Howard Dryden

Dr. Dryden has unique knowledge combination of biology, chemistry and technology and is the inventor of the activated, bio-resistant filter media AFM®. Dr. Dryden is one of the world`s leading experts in sustainable water treatment.

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Dr. Howard Dryden, CSO

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