2014-06-09. Of Fish, Monsoons and the Future.

posted Jun 10, 2014, 12:33 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Population Growth chapter 5. Excerpt: AKOL, CAMBODIA — ...Tonle Sap Lake... yields about 300,000 tons of fish, making it one of the world’s most productive freshwater ecosystems. ...But the Tonle Sap is in trouble — from overfishing to feed a fast-growing population, from the cutting of mangrove forests that shelter young fish, from hydroelectric dams upstream, and from the dry seasons that are expected to grow hotter and longer with climate change. ...Keo Mao, a 42-year-old fisherman from Akol, says he hopes his five children can find a way out of the life that has sustained his family for generations. “The lake now is not really so good,” he said. “There are too many people.”...Cambodia’s population is growing rapidly, at a rate of nearly 2 percent a year. Many rural Cambodians, including subsistence farmers displaced by land grants to large agribusinesses, have migrated to the Tonle Sap from upland areas. Others come after selling their farmland to pay off debt. From 1998 to 2008, the most recent period studied, the number of full-time Tonle Sap fishermen grew by 38 percent to 38,200, and the number of lakeside farmers, many of whom fish part time, increased 33 percent to 520,800. ...“But the human aspect of an ecosystem is crucial,” said Jianguo Liu, who leads the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems, or Chans-net, a network of 1,300 ecologists, economists, and sociologists. “The central message of Chans is that humans and nature are coupled, just like husband and wife,” says Dr. Liu, director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University. “They interact, work together, and the impacts are not just one way. There are feedbacks.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/science/of-fish-monsoons-and-the-future.html. By Chris Berdik, The New York Times.