Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How did we miss this?

Popular Science runs an annual competition for the worst jobs in science. Among the contestents this year is

If global-warming predictions are right, as many as a quarter of mammals now alive could be extinct in our lifetime; in other groups of plants and animals, casualties could be as high as 40 percent. Considering that humankind doesn’t have the money or know-how to save them all, some scientists are calling for ecological triage—choosing which critters to preserve and which to abandon.
From their, 2007 worst jobs in science, at number 2 we get
Number 2: Oceanographer
Nothing but bad news, day in and day out

Scientists estimate that overfishing will end wild-seafood harvests by 2048 and that Earth´s coral reefs will be rubble within decades. About 200 deoxygenated "dead zones" dot the world´s coasts, up from 149 in 2004. Meanwhile, a vortex of plastic the size of Texas clogs the North Pacific, choking fish and birds; construction is destroying coastal habitats; and countless key marine species are nearly extinct. To top it all off, if global warming goes the way scientists predict, the uptick of carbon dioxide levels in the seas will acidify the water until little more than jellyfish can live there.



Anonymous said...

I'd say that qualifies as alarmist, at least insofar as career descriptors for those old enough to be reading Popular Science are concerned. Also, 1) the worst job in science still beats the best job in any number of fields and 2) if we don't mitigate, this will actually be quite an "exciting" time to be in either biology or oceanography, in a macabre sense.

Robert Grumbine said...

I'm an oceanographer. Ok, physical oceanographer and the things they point to are biological. Still ...

Have to say that oceanography is a pretty good job. I do satellites and modelling, which means I get to work in comfortable surroundings. I get paid a comfortable, if not spectacular, wage. And the dangers that people who use the stuff I produce -- like fishermen (which, for them, mean possible death if they read it wrong or, worse, ignore it) -- are so far beyond mine that there's no way I'll put my job up for 'worst'.

I'd argue for it being on list for 'best'.

ac said...

Why is it an *ography and not an *ology?

Anonymous said...

Because oceanography deals with the physical/biological properties and phenomena of the sea and oceanology is the branch of technology and economics dealing with human use of the sea.

(Courtesy of my SOED)

I dare say there's a bit of overlap from time to time.

Perhaps there are "in-house" jokes about such things.

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

My guess is because oceanography started out as a "charting" of the oceans (by and for sailors).

The suffix graph means to "write".

Anonymous said...

I know quite many biologists and used to date one.

Regardless of your specialization, be it the sea, lakes, forests or swamps, I couldn't bear to do it and stay sane. The destruction and decline is so widespread and rapid.

All in all of course one can see great changes in ones lifetime, so I guess it could be fascinating.

Say, researching local extinction of some species provides interesting opportunities for researchers. For example butterflies on some island, or old forest bird species in multiple locales.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget "NASA climatologist." Can you imagine how much email from crackpots they have to deal with? Not to mention ignorant articles on web sites and blogs, and stupidly reported news items, etc., etc., etc....

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