The concept of ecosystem health has two aspects.
One is, What’s the impact that humans are having on our present environment?; and the
second is, What future does that environment provide with regards to our health? We’re
using our ecological services very fast. We are asking a lot of our environment and putting
a lot of materials in our environment, and it’s going to have an impact on our health.
If it’s not now, it will be certainly in the future. As an oceanographer, I’m quite
interested in understanding how toxins move from the environment into our foods. Our seafoods
in particular, our fish, our shellfish. We’re changing the chemistry of the environment
to such an extent that we’re inducing some toxins to get into a food source that we’re
increasingly dependent upon, and it’s getting smaller and smaller as the years progress. The really good aspect of my work is the fact
that there is an enormous amount of new discovery that can occur on any single day. As a scientist,
I’ve gone from looking at the true basic science of the marine environment, as an oceanographer, to looking at the relationship with humans. So I serve as a gatekeeper, as an individual
that can take information and help shape communities and how communities make decisions about their
environment. It’s kind of a new opportunity for the type of science that we do. We are
not collecting data so that we understand what the past looked like; we’re trying
to design our experiments and work in areas that we can use as a model for what can happen
around the world.