We need to change course: Ocean life is at risk of unprecedented extinction

Destructive fishing practices, pollution, biodiversity loss, spreading low-oxygen “dead zones” and ocean acidification are having synergistic effects across the board.

When you stand on a beach looking out across an ocean, the effect can be to make you feel puny. It is easy to believe that there is little we humans can do to harm, or for that matter protect, the colossal oceans. Our perception of human impotence, of our inability to affect the oceans, is deeply rooted in the way we govern the seas today.

The crux of the problem is that the rate of changes in ocean systems is accelerating and outstripping what was expected just a few years ago. Destructive fishing practices, pollution, biodiversity loss, spreading low-oxygen “dead zones” and ocean acidification are having synergistic effects across the board – from coastal areas to the open ocean, from the tropics to the poles.

The report highlights that the fundamental disturbances to the carbon cycle, acidification and oxygen depletion being recorded in the oceans today were all associated with the five mass extinctions that occurred in the past history of life on Earth, and that the rates of change we are recording today exceed those found in the fossil record. Fortunately, there is a rapidly expanding global awareness of both the interconnectedness and the wonder of ocean systems – for many, videos of the deep abyss or uninhabited coral atolls are just a mouse click away. With this growing awareness comes an empowering sense of stewardship.

Jason Hall-Spencer, AlterNet, Full article.

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