The Assimilative Capacity of the Oceans for Wastes
It is inevitable that the compositions of ocean waters will change continuously in the future. An increasing world population with an increasing appetite for material goods and energy will product an increasing amount of waste. Modern societies do not accumulate or recycle materials -- they dispose. The discharge of the unwanted substances can take place in the ocean, on land and in the atmosphere through incineration or pyrolysis. Most of the materials will be benign and will neither interfere with life processes nor damage the environment. However, a part of the wastes is hazardous and can jeopardize the resources of the surroundings. Herein, I will present an assessment of conventional wisdom on the abilities of the oceans to accept a part of these generated wastes, the presently perceived dangers to marine resources through the promiscuous release of materials, and some strategies to effectively use the oceans as waste space. I will use data from the United States to illustrate the problems of an industrialized nation, while I will treat the problems of the developing countries in a general way.
KeywordsCombustion Phosphorus Mercury Silicate Foam
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