Oceans Spiralling Downward, Threatening Life on Earth


This is not an Orson Welles-esque prank, but real and scary: An international panel of marine scientists is demanding urgent remedies to halt ocean degradation based on findings that the rate, speed and impacts of change in the global ocean are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought.

“The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated.  The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth,” says Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of the IPSO.

This is the conclusion made by the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)/IUCN review of science on anthropogenic stressors on the ocean. Predictions go beyond the conclusion reached by the UN climate change panel the IPCC that the ocean is absorbing much of the warming and unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide and which warned that the cumulative impact of this with other ocean stressors is far graver than previous estimates.

What’s happening? Decreasing oxygen levels in the ocean caused by climate change and nitrogen run-off, combined with other chemical pollution and rampant overfishing are undermining the ability of the ocean to withstand these so-called ‘carbon perturbations’, meaning its role as Earth’s ‘buffer’ is seriously compromised.

The findings, published in the peer review journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, are part of an ongoing assessment process overseen by IPSO, which brings together scientists from a range of marine disciplines.

Among the latest assessments of factors affecting ocean health, the panel identified the following areas as of greatest cause for concern:

De-oxygenation: the evidence is accumulating that the oxygen inventory of the ocean is progressively declining.  Predictions for ocean oxygen content suggest a decline of between 1% and 7% by 2100. This is occurring in two ways: the broad trend of decreasing oxygen levels in tropical oceans and areas of the North Pacific over the last 50 years; and the dramatic increase in coastal hypoxia (low oxygen) associated with eutrophication.  The former is caused by global warming, the second by increased nutrient runoff from agriculture and sewage.

Acidification: If current levels of CO2 release continue we can expect extremely serious consequences for ocean life, and in turn food and coastal protection; at CO2 concentrations of 450-500 ppm (projected in 2030-2050) erosion will exceed calcification in the coral reef building process, resulting in the extinction of some species and decline in biodiversity overall.

Warming: As made clear by the IPCC, the ocean is taking the brunt of warming in the climate system, with direct and well-documented physical and biogeochemical consequences.  The impacts which continued warming is projected to have in the decades to 2050 include: reduced seasonal ice zones, including the disappearance of Arctic summer sea ice by ca. 2037; increasing stratification of ocean layers, leading to oxygen depletion; increased venting of the GHG methane from the Arctic seabed (a factor not considered by the IPCC); and increased incidence of anoxic and hypoxic (low oxygen) events.

The ‘deadly trio’ of the above three stressors – acidification, warming and deoxygenation – is seriously effecting how productive and efficient the ocean is, as temperatures, chemistry, surface stratification, nutrient and oxygen supply are all implicated, meaning that many organisms will find themselves in unsuitable environments.   These impacts will have cascading consequences for marine biology, including altered food web dynamics and the expansion of pathogens.

Continued overfishing is serving to further undermine the resilience of ocean systems, and contrary to some claims, despite some improvements largely in developed regions, fisheries management is still failing to halt the decline of key species and damage to the ecosystems on which marine life depends. In 2012 the UN FAO determined that 70% of world fish populations are unsustainably exploited, of which 30% have biomass collapsed to less than 10% of unfished levels. A recent global assessment of compliance with Article 7 (fishery management) of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, awarded 60% of countries a “fail” grade, and saw no country identified as being overall “good”.

What your government needs to do? The scientists recommend:

·         Reduce global C02 emissions to limit temperature rise to less than 2oC, or below 450 CO2e.

·         Ensure effective implementation of community- and ecosystem-based management, favouring small-scale fisheries.

·         Build a global infrastructure for high seas governance.

What global citizens can do? Join or start a local chapter of 350; there are many already in the Middle East. Support the actions of green groups like Greenpeace; bike to school and work (yes, you can even cycle in Saudi Arabia!); start up new sustainable businesses and NGOs to support your local oceans and seas.

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10 thoughts on “Oceans Spiralling Downward, Threatening Life on Earth”

  1. Maryann says:

    You forgot to mention Seismic Testing for Oil in our Oceans..Seismic Testing is killing more Marine Life every day around the world. No one will talk about it because, Big Oil, influences Government Agencies, put in place to oversee the health of our Oceans and our Marine Life. Seismic Testing kills from Plankton right up the Chain of Life..No agency will blame Seismic Testing as the reason for all the Whale and Dolphin Strandings around the world..They might lose their biggest funding which comes from Big Oil in the disguise of Research..

    No one will blame the Navy for Using Side Scanning Sonar in their war games. Seismic Testing and Sonar, renders our Whales and Dolphin deaf..With out hearing they can not locate food, their family pod or obstacles in the Ocean. Its all tied together, however Seismic Testing and Sonar are right along side of Climate Change in my opinion. People need to start connecting the dots. Demand. these professionals who are paid by our tax dollars, come up with the real reason all of this is happening.. Demand they quit sugar coating everything that the they are studying and swaying decisions that will bring about the most profit.. We are in a lot of Trouble with our Oceans. Our Oceans and the life that resides in them, might be past the point on no return. .Makes me sick..What a mess, we are leaving our Children..WE should all be ashamed.. You say you love your children .if you did, each and every Parent and Grand Parent would be doing everything in their power to demand action and facts from all these Scientists….Wake up before our Oceans and the Marine Life is past the point of no return..We are Stewards of this World.. We have to hand it down to those Children you all love. You wouldn’t feed your children poison, why leave them a poisoned World.. .Right..? Thanks..

  2. Facts says:

    We all know that there are two Causes of Climate Change, and they are Human Causes of Climate Change and Non Human Causes of Climate Change.

    This can be seen from the Wikipedia Article Titled Little Ice Age at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age .

    We need to be 100 % Certain that Human Behavior has the Ability to Cause Climate Change, and we need to be 100 % Certain that the Climate wants to Change to an Unacceptable Level by means of Non Human Causes, but Forests are the Stabilizers or Cushioning for Climate that would Change to an Unacceptable Level by means of Non Human Causes.

    This can be Compared to the Thin Layer of Earth’s Atmosphere that Protects the Earth from the Soaring Heat of the Sun during the day, and the Freezing Cold the night as what happens on the Moon, thus Acting as a Stabilizer or Cushioning for what the Sun could do to the Earth, if the Earth did not have the Stabilizer or Cushioning of Earth’s Atmosphere.

    The Earth’s Atmosphere also Protects the Earth from Cosmic Rays and from Meteorites.

    Forests are the Additional Stabilizers or Cushioning to Earth’s Atmosphere of the Non Human Causes of Unacceptable Levels of Climate Change.

    Forests create Clouds and these Cool the Planet by as has been Mentioned, and Clouds are Needed to make Rain.

    Humans cannot prevent Solar Flares that Certainly affects the Climate of the Earth.

    Even though the Selected Climate Scientists have once said that they were 90 % Certain that 1 of the 2 the Causes of Climate Change was Responsible for Climate Change.

    These Selected Climate Scientists are now saying after Decades of supposed Research that they are now Only 95 % Certain that 1 of 2 Causes of Climate Change is Responsible for Climate Change.

    Scientists who use the Scientific Method would have Realized during their Studies at the University that they were 100 % Certain that both Causes of Climate Change are Causing Climate Change.

    I was Only Hoping that Carbon Dioxide was causing the Planet to become hotter, because this would put much more Water Vapor in the Atmosphere, and it would have caused Snow in the Deserts at Night, because of the Water Vapor in the Atmosphere.

    The Reason it does not Snow in the Freezing Deserts of the Night Times, is because the Air is Dry.

    That Snow would Water the Deserts, and this would allow the Deserts to be Reforested, and that Snow would have created Rivers, Streams, and Lakes, and those Deserts would become a Forest with Much Biodiversity, and this would Provide for Humans, and Cool the Planet.

    I was Perplexed as to why Some Climate Scientists did not want more Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere to make Hotter Oceans in order to make it Snow in the Deserts at Night, but I now know that Carbon Dioxide is Innocent, and that it is Deforestation that is Cause of Climate Change, and that Many People do not want to Reforest the Planet so that Mankind can survive on this Planet.

    The Correct amount of Trees Provide the Water that Humans, Plants, Animals Need, and it Provides the Correct Climate for this Planet.

  3. Facts says:

    There are a Very Few Obvious Things with regards to the Global Environment that are Known to Everyone, Especially by the Experts.

    I Deny that Carbon Dioxide is the cause of Climate Change, and I do believe in Natural Causes for Climate Change and I believe in Manmade Causes of Climate Change, and that Deforestation is the Manmade Cause of Climate Change.

    These things are Deliberately Obfuscated with the Topic of Global Climate Change, but there are a Few Obvious Things that Humans need to survive on this Planet.

    One of them is Water, because with No Water, there will be no Food, and Humans can survive in Vastly Different Climates if they have Food, Water, and Shelter.

    There Could be Some People who think that Scientists of Tremendous Learning, Tremendous Intelligence, and of Tremendous Integrity have just Discovered that Forests produce Rain, Rivers, and Lakes, and Deserts are Dry, and that Water is Needed to produce Food for Humans, Plants, Animals, and Insects.

    However, the Facts are that the Most Stupidest People on this Earth, and the Most Evil People on this Earth, All Know These Long Established Basic Facts.

    One Website that Knows the Indisputable Scientific Facts concerning Forests says: “Forests are complex ecosystems that are important to the carbon and water cycles that sustain life on earth. When they are degraded, it can set off a devastating chain of events both locally and around the world. Seventy percent of the world抯 plants and animals live in forests and are losing their habitats to deforestation. Loss of habitat can lead to species extinction. This is not only a biodiversity tragedy but also has negative consequences for medicinal research and local populations who rely on the animals and plants in the forests for hunting and medicine. Healthy forests help absorb greenhouse gasses and carbon dioxide emissions that are caused by human civilization. Without trees, more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses enter the atmosphere. To make matters worse, trees actually become carbon sources when they are cut, burned, or otherwise removed. Tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, and deforestation represents around 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the WWF. Trees play an important part in the water cycle, grounding the water in their roots and releasing it into the atmosphere. In the Amazon, more than half the water in the ecosystem is held within the plants. Without the plants, the climate may become dryer. Without tree roots to anchor the soil and with increased exposure to sun, the soil can dry out, leading to problems like increased flooding and inability to farm. The WWF states that scientists estimate that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to deforestation since 1960. Cash crops planted after clear cutting or burning like soy, coffee, and palm oil can actually exacerbate soil erosion because their roots cannot hold onto the soil the way trees can. Soil erosion can also lead to silt entering the lakes, streams, and other water sources. This can decrease local water quality, contributing to poor health in the local population. All of these factors can have adverse effects on local economies. Increased flooding, lack of quality water, and inability to produce their own food causes many locals migrate to cities that lack infrastructure for them. Or, they work on plantations, worsening the deforestation problem and at times being subjected to inhumane working conditions.”

    This Proves that the Planet needs a Correct Amount of Trees in the Correct Locations and Configurations on All Continents, except Antarctica.

    This will include Areas of Wilderness for the Reasons that have been Mentioned.

    We know that Forests create Clouds, and that Clouds Reflect the sun抯 heat back into space, and this cools the Planet, and Desertification is Harmful to the Earth and to its Inhabitants at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification , and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation .

    The Only Thing to Consider for those who do not have Ulterior Motives is that it is not good for the Entire Planet be Desert Regions, because Forests produce Rain, and Water is needed for Food.

    Forests are the way to store Carbon, even though Innocent Carbon Dioxide does not cause Climate Change, but Deforestation will cause Climate Change, and it is Ruining the Earth.

    The Science on these Facts and the Common Sense on these Facts have been Settled Long Ago, but Liars with Ulterior Motives Persist to be Liars with Ulterior Motives.

    What this means is that if the Human Race is not to be Liars with Ulterior Motives, then we do not even want to Know what the Climate will be like on a Reforested Earth, because Humans cannot survive on a Desert Earth, and so a Desert Earth is not an Option under Any Circumstances.

    We have Historical Evidence and we have Scientific Evidence that a Reforested Earth has Excellent Weather and Climate at http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/deforest/deforest.html , and what the Earth and its Inhabitants need is Afforestation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afforestation , and Reforestation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reforestation .

    Scientists and Many Ordinary People know that Technology Advance with Time, and that Scientists have been Working a Long Time on Genetically Engineered Lethal Viruses, and on Vaccines against those Genetically Engineered Lethal Viruses.

    Scientists with Sufficient Intelligence and Learning, and we will not mention what Level of Integrity, should do Research on whether Some People would Lie to make MONEY.

    They can use the Resources of Courts around the World to Discover if Some People will Lie to make Money, but I am Sure they Knew the Answers to these things before they were Selected to Maliciously Slander Carbon Dioxide as being the Cause of Climate Change, because we All Know that it is Deforestation that Causes Climate Change.

    These People could Include Some Western Politicians, Some Crony Capitalists, Some Scientists (SS), and Some People Associated with the Western Main Stream Media, and Some Scientists who are ‘Researching’ these Things.

    The Science on these Things is SETTLED, because the Common Sense and the Truthfulness of these Things was SETTLED long ago.

    Rich Countries including the Rich Oil Producing Desert Countries should have already Reforested their Countries, and the Science of Reforestation is what Rich Countries should Fund in their Universities with University Courses, and share their Research with others.

    Honest Experts should Research if the Forests and Soils in the United States were Restored to their Historical Potential, whether those Forests and Soils could Sequester 7 times the yearly emissions of Carbon Dioxide of the United States, and more than the Entire World’s Annual Manmade Emissions.

    There is more of my research on this matter with the Moniker of Journalist at the Euractiv Website News Item which is Titled: IPCC Scientist: Climate change will hit Europe抯 competitiveness at http://www.euractiv.com/science-policymaking/ipcc-scientist-climate-change-hi-news-530759 , and at the Euractiv Website News Item which is Titled: Poland on collision course with Brussels over illegal coal plant at http://www.euractiv.com/energy/poland-collision-course-brussels-news-529895 .

  4. Anderson says:

    We need to take better care of our oceans and this planet careless pollution is killing wild life

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