Climate change is killing our ocean

But ocean protection offers countless opportunities to fight back, says Jonas Svensson, head of Global Innovation and Technology at UNOPS’ S3i

Around 71% of our planet is covered by oceans, and algae and seaweed in those oceans absorb 25% of all carbon emissions. Compare that with the Amazon, which absorbs approximately 5% of carbon dioxide and is on the verge of lapsing into being a carbon source. To fight climate change we not only need to protect our terrestrial carbon sinks and lower overall carbon emissions—it is essential that we have healthy oceans that can continue to absorb carbon.

The impacts of global warming

We see the direct impacts of increased global temperatures upon the ocean in the melting of polar ice, coral death, diminished overall ecosystems and declining fish populations.

Polar melting harms the ocean in two ways: it turns a white surface into a dark surface, and it dumps massive quantities of fresh water into the salty seas, propelling ocean acidification.

While whiter surfaces generally absorb little heat (and can help reflect it), darker surfaces trap heat, increasing the ocean’s surface temperature. Warmer water and acidification affect ocean currents, changing fish migration routes and disrupting the livelihoods of vulnerable fishing communities around the world. These altered currents could also lead to a “tipping point” for the Gulf Stream, which has already slowed to an unprecedented extent.

Ocean Economist, 28 September 2021. Full article.

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