World Water Week in Stockholm, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute, ran from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2. For a quarter of a century, the institute has brought together scientists from around the world to address the planet’s water issues.

At this year’s event, professor Joan Rose, laboratory director in water research at Michigan State University, received what The Guardian described as “the world’s most prestigious prize for water.”

In her acceptance speech, Rose pointed out: “There are 7 billion people and most of their waste is going into water. … Pollution is spreading to every part of the world.” One reason, she explained, is that viruses and pathogens are transported in ballast water taken on in one port, discharged in another, and so on around the globe.

“We are infecting the food chain,” Rose said. “Everywhere is now under huge new attack from viruses and pathogens.”

On Sept. 5, National Geographic published an article that bore the headline “The Oceans Can’t Protect Us Anymore – Here’s Why.” The subhead read: “Our waters have borne the brunt of global warming for decades, but dying corals, extreme weather and plummeting fish stocks are signs that it can handle no more.”

Unfortunately, the oceans have no voice or voting bloc in Congress, as was dramatically demonstrated by the disparity in funding for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill designed to keep the federal government running until Sept. 30.

NASA’s planetary science division was awarded $1.63 billion, an increase of 13.4 percent. NOAA’s research arm received $462 million for research related to both the atmosphere and the oceans, and only $10 million for ocean acidification research rather than the requested increase to $30 million.

Jon Swan