A couple of weeks ago I read about a new and alarming study about human impact on our oceans. The gist is that the global marine environment is getting warmer, more acidic, and less oxygenated as a result of human activity. Furthermore, its health is declining faster than forecasted. Considering the role oceans play in human survival, one would think such a study by such eminent scientists would have alarm bells ringing and an international call for some concerted effort similar to the Montreal Protocol to combat the human manufacturing and release of CFCs that was shown to cause the ozone hole over the antarctic to enlarge.
But… almost nothing has come from it. That’s alarming.
The study, by “27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries produced a grave assessment of current threats — and a stark conclusion about future risks to marine and human life if the current trajectory of damage continues: that the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.”
Surely this is worth our attention.
“The results are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, an Oxford professor who heads IPSO and co-authored the report. “We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime.”
“We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts,” Rogers said. “That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted.”
Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment.
The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth’s climate system.
“We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation,” said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report.
“And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems.”
We may have enough time but dealing with the problem? Hell, we’re not even talking about it. That needs to change, PDQ.