In another gem of a piece that exceeds even his infamous “2012 Meat Apocalypse” prediction, George Monbiot has warned that global warming Co2 is breeding an invasion of the jellyfish that spells the end of vertebrate life itself!
Monbiot starts his latest Jeremiad by observing that there used to be a lot more fish in the sea, citing two impeccable scientific sources: himself and old people who remember how many more mackerel there used to be. Apparently, you used to be able to just walk along the beach with a bucket and the fish would just about leap into it for you. Ah, the good old days!
Finding that there is no scientific explanation – or even data – on why things are no longer what they used to be in the world of mackerel, our hero jumps into a kayak and paddles three miles (!) out to sea. He doesn’t see any mackerel, but does spot something else. “Unimaginable numbers” of monster jellyfish!
But I could also see something else. Jellyfish. Unimaginable numbers of them. Not the transparent cocktail umbrellas I was used to, but solid, white rubbery creatures the size of footballs. They roiled in the surface or loomed, vast and pale, in the depths. There was scarcely a cubic metre of water without one.
Yikes! Could the arrival of these monster jellyfish spell a doom of Lovecraftian proportions and strangeness? Monbiot believes it could well do. This could be the end of vertebrate ecology itself we are witnessing:
Is this the moment? Have I just witnessed the beginning of the end of vertebrate ecology here? If so, the shift might not be confined to Cardigan Bay. In a perfect conjunction of two of my recent interests, last week a monstrous swarm of jellyfish succeeded where Greenpeace has failed, and shut down both reactors at the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland.
Damm those monster jellyfish! But why now? What is causing this terrifying invasion? Could it possibly be down to C02 and global warming? Why yes it could be:
A combination of overfishing and ocean acidification (caused by rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) has created the perfect conditions for this shift from a system dominated by fish to a system dominated by jellyfish.
If this is indeed what we’re seeing, the end of vertebrate ecology is a direct result of the end of vertebrate politics: the utter spinelessness of the people charged with protecting the life of the seas.
The jellyfish are coming, thanks to C02, and they’re shutting down the power stations as they move inexorably to a “system dominated by jellyfish”. This, surely, is proof of the unprecedented effects of global warming? We’ve never had jellyfish breeding in such numbers as to shut down power stations before, after all. Have we?
Well, of course, it’s nothing new – this has all happened before. Like in the Phillipines in 1999, where an “enormous concentration” of jellyfish was blamed for crippling the new power station. In Miami in 1984, where a “huge crowd of jellyfish” shut down the nuclear reactor at the St Lucie power station and again in 1993. In Tampa Bay in 1971, where massive “swarms” of jellyfish shut down the power plant. In Tokyo in 1972, where they closed a power plant, in the Persian gulf in 1958 where they shut down an oil refinery, in the North Atlantic in 1924, when “myriads” of jellyfish “have begun to invade important fishing grounds, where they are devouring the eggs of a valuable food fish” (could that be mackerel, perhaps?). The list goes on and on and on.
As a zoologist, you would have thought Monbiot would be unperturbed by the fact that certain species go through population boom/bust cycles. Whilst there has (of course) been speculation about a link between global warming and jellyfish numbers, marine biologists have rejected this idea, noting that such population surges are perfectly normal and “have been going on for hundreds of years”. But I guess “global warming jellyfish apocalypse” was just too good a theme to let it go to waste.
Having backtracked on his “2012 Meat Apocalypse” prediction, Monbiot’s latest is even better – the end of vertebrate life and the imposition of “a system dominated by jellyfish” who apparently are starting by shutting down power stations. Run for the hills!