GLOBALISATION is usually taken to be a bad thing for the environment: as more people around the world consume more goods that have travelled greater distances to their shopping baskets, pressure on resources increases and the planet suffers. Sometimes, though, globalisation has the opposite effect. The creation of the world’s largest marine reserve, done with a squiggle of Barack Obama’s pen on September 25th, is one such example.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is roughly the size of Texas, California and Florida combined. Its importance lies not just in its vastness. “It is as close to a pristine ecosystem as it is possible to get on this planet,” says Jane Lubchenko of Oregon State University. The sea mountains that lie below the surface of its waters throw up all sorts of delicious things for sharks, manta rays and turtles to feast on. Though the reserve’s distance from heavily populated land means its fish are not currently threatened by trawlers’ nets, that might not have been the case for long.
The tale of how the reserve came about involves the unlikely intersection of George W. Bush, a...Continue reading