Dire warning about the health of the world's oceans
The world's oceans are vast, containing massive amounts of water. Oceanic water is thought by some to be so vast that it can't be seriously impacted by man or by climate change.
But a new study looking at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity — and most areas will be stricken by a multitude of these stressors.
These biogeochemical changes triggered by human-generated greenhouse gas emissions will not only affect marine habitats and organisms, the researchers say, but will often co-occur in areas that are heavily used by humans.
Results of the study are being published this week in the journal PLoS Biology. It was funding by the Norwegian Research Council and Foundation through its support of the International Network for Scientific investigation of deep-sea ecosystems (INDEEP).
"While we estimated that 2 billion people would be impacted by these changes, the most troubling aspect of our results was that we found that many of the environmental stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it," said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study.
"If we look on a global scale, between 400 million and 800 million people are both dependent on the ocean for their livelihood and also make less than $4,000 annually," Thurber pointed out. "Adapting to climate change is a costly endeavor, whether it is retooling a fishing fleet to target a changing fish stock, or moving to a new area or occupation."
The researchers say the effect on oceans will also create a burden in higher income areas, though "it is a much larger problem for people who simply do not have the financial resources to adapt."
Dolphin jumping photo via Shutterstock.
Read more at Oregon State University.