Human Activity Damaging Oceans At Alarming Rates
“If the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world's oceans aren't curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming, an expert panel of scientists warns in an alarming new report.”
This study is a preliminary report compiled by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, and “is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.”
The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) was established by a coalition of scientists from countries all over the world, including the United States, dedicated to preserving the ocean. Under the “How Bad Is It” tab on their website, one can find a brief description of the importance of saving the ocean:
“It creates more than half our oxygen, drives weather systems and modulates the atmosphere, as well as providing us with vital resources. So the Ocean functions at a fundamental ‘Earth System’ level, transcending national borders to help maintain life everywhere on Earth.
“Damage to the Ocean is not as immediately apparent as terrestrial destruction, but it is just as serious. All of the stressors we have put on the Ocean — from over-fishing to pollution — have contributed to its ill-health. The situation is now so severe that we are altering the chemistry of the Ocean, with significant impacts on marine life and the functioning of marine ecosystems.
“The Ocean has already absorbed more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system and around 33% of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Ecosystems are collapsing as species are pushed to extinction and natural habitats are destroyed. Scientists believe that there is still time to prevent irreversible, catastrophic changes to our marine ecosystems but that this requires drastic action within a decade.”
According to the Huffington Post, “The scientific panel concluded that degeneration in the oceans is happening much faster than has been predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the precise conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth's history…[They are] an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates “dead zones”) in the oceans, warming and acidification. The panel warns that the combination of these factors will inevitably cause a mass marine extinction if swift action isn't taken to improve conditions.”
The IPSO report is not the only report to have revealed the drastically dire condition of the oceans. It is one in a long line of scientific studies and reports that all indicate that human actions are causing the degradation of the oceans and life on earth.
IPSO recommends the following immediate changes: reduction of CO2 emissions (for example, by buying energy- and water-efficient appliances, or by choosing an energy-efficient car or using public transportation instead), efforts to restore marine ecosystems (petitioning for a moratorium on oil drilling, halting excessive hunting for ocean life (e.g. fishing, whaling, and other activities), universal implementation of regulations of activities (create a policy that activities may only proceed if they are shown to be environmentally safe), and it also calls for governance of the oceans by the UN (to ensure that countries around the world are following environmentally safe practices with regard to the ocean). There must be a universal acceptance of certain standards so that the UN can obtain the power to really enforce this policy with the backing of nations around the world.
The harm being perpetrated on the oceans by humans is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed now, not in the future. People need to understand that actions that are proven to be environmentally unsafe have repercussions that stem beyond individual concerns – added together, these actions affect the entire world.
As Dan Laffoley, co-author of the IPSO report and member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) states, “The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent.”