Good news for the oceans, but you'd never know it by the headline

Here's just one more example of how the hype of the headlines hide the science. The other day I came across a study under the headline, "Study Finds Toxic Pollutants in Fish Across the World's Oceans." Okay, that's a pretty provocative headline, given that much of the world's population eats fish. Naturally we're concerned about pollution (including plastic trash and the proliferation of polymer micro-beads) in our oceans and how that might impact what we eat.

But here's the kicker: The real story, based on an analysis by San Diego State University's Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers of hundreds of peer-reviewed articles from 1969 to 2012, is that concentrates of "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs) found in fish in the world's oceans "have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years." The analysis revealed that average concentrations of each class of pollutants in fish were "significantly higher in the 1980s than today, with a drop in concentration of 15 to 30% per decade."

One of the researchers and lead author of the study, Lindsay Bonito, commented, "This means that the typical fish that you consume today can have approximately 50% of the concentration of most POPs when compared to the same fish eaten by your parents at your age."

So the real news—which obviously doesn't make for an attention-grabbing headline—is that the fish we consume today are much safer to eat than they were 30 years ago. That fish contain toxic pollutants is old news and doesn't deserve a headline. The fact that we've made tremendous headway in keeping POPs out of the ocean is news, and needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

It also shows that science not only can come up with chemical solutions to the world's challenges for materials (such as plastics), but that we can also keep the negative impacts of these otherwise beneficial products from our oceans—and hopefully our land. Keep in mind that the law of unintended consequences is always in effect in the universe of duality in which we operate.

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