Friday 30th September 2016                 Change text size:

Study: world’s oceans facing irreversible damage without climate action



fish oceans by Oktaviani Marvikasari via Freeimages

Unless ambitious action is taken to reduce carbon emissions the world’s oceans are facing dangerous and irreversible impact that could affect seafood supply, according to a new study.

The report, which has been published in the journal Science, evaluated and compared two scenarios under two potential carbon dioxide emission pathways over this century. While both scenarios carry high risks to vulnerable species, a business-as-usual scenario was projected to be “devastating” and have a high impact of widespread species moralities.

The author’s note that man-made climate change has led to profound alterations to the oceans, with greenhouse gas emissions leading to them warming up and becoming more acidic.

Lead author of the report, Jean-Pierre Gattuso, senior scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, said, “The oceans have been minimally considered at previous climate negotiations; our study provides compelling arguments for a radical change at COP21.”

He added that the hopes the findings of the report will generate the political will necessary to enforce meaningful cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. In December in Paris world leaders will gather for COP21, a UN summit that aims to create a universal treaty for tackling climate change and limiting global temperature rise to 2C.

The paper finds that emission cuts in line with keeping global temperature rise within the 2C target by 2100 would ensure moderate impacts to all but the most vulnerable of species. However, failure to achieve this goal would lead to high impacts on all the marine organism groups considered.

Dan Laffoley, co-author of the report vice chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Marine argues that a new climate regime that fails to minimise impact on oceans will be “incomplete and inadequate”.

Ocean acidification in particular is singled out as one of the highest risks with the biggest impacts. UK scientists have previously warned that worsening ocean acidification threatens humans and marine life.

Speaking about the latest report, Carl Custaf Lundin, director of IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, commented, “Signs of ocean acidification have now been detected in both hemispheres.

“Once thought to be a problem for the future, acidification is already having economic repercussions today and, if carbon emissions continue to grow, these are set to grow rapidly.’

Photo: Oktaviani Marvikasari via Freeimages

Further reading:

Worsening ocean acidification threatens humans and marine life, UK scientists warn

Prince Charles calls for action to clean up oceans

‘New era’ in Arctic Ocean due to climate change

Celebrations for 2015 World Oceans Day kick off

Study: over 5 trillion pieces of plastic now in the ocean


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