Rutgers should not sacrifice environment for research projects

On June 3, Rutgers in association with the National Science Foundation, University of Texas and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory began a 30-day research project putatively to gather information about seabed sedimentation during the period between 30 and 60 million years ago. The data generated by this research is of great value to the fossil fuels industry. This research involved seismic blasting at a level orders of magnitude above the decibels generated by a jet takeoff. This blasting took place every 5 seconds for 30 days and nights, over a 230 square-mile expanse of ocean 15 miles off the Barnegat Inlet.

The sound-blasting technology used has a history of harassing and killing various forms of sea life. At particular risk are whales and dolphins, including some endangered species. At this time, many marine mammals migrate through the area, and some species, including dolphins, give birth. Sea turtles, again including some endangered species, are also likely in the affected area and are subjected to sonic damage.

Participation in this project is unworthy of Rutgers. Surely there are alternative means of gathering the desired data. While alternatives may be slower, and may cost more in terms of dollars, the price of this research in terms of environmental damage is unacceptable. Given the increasing reliance of both public and private universities on corporate funding, one may be forgiven for concluding that the interest of better understanding historical geology, oceanography and climatology is merely a fig leaf to obscure the true reason for this project: offshore gas deposit exploration and mapping.

Let’s not sacrifice our irreplaceable ocean life to serve the interests of the industry that has brought us the gulf oil spill, poisoned drinking water and climate chaos.

Tom Brown is a 1994 Rutgers University alumnus with a master’s in library science.

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