Marine Life Declines Considerably In Worst Case Climate Crisis Scenario

A new study published on Tuesday by the National Academies of Science found that all the marine life in the ocean will decline by one-sixth by the year 2100 under the high emissions global warming scenario but on by 5% if we can stay within the low emissions scenario — with an average 5% decline for every 1 °C of warming. These losses are driven by temperature increases rather than fishing and were more significant in the tropics.

Why This Matters:  These are some of the most renowned scientists when it comes to ocean productivity and their research provides an important contrast between best and worst case scenarios, which should motivate us to act to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  As was made clear by the U.N. Extinction Report, we humans rely on the natural world for our existence. “Healthy oceans are required for planetary stability,” University of Georgia marine biologist Samantha Joye told the Associated Press (AP)  The bad news is that if we don’t get greenhouse gas emissions under control, we will lose billions of fish that we need to feed the planet.  But the good news is that if we can reduce our emissions and keep temperature increases lower, we can stave off a global food security disaster.    

What Is New In This Study?   Scientists already knew that climate change and ocean warming would reduce the amount of marine life (or biomass), but past computer simulations looked at only part of the picture or used only one model, whereas this study uses six different state-of-the-art computer models that give the best big-picture look yet, according to William Cheung, a marine ecologist at the University of British Columbia said.

The Biggest Losers:  The AP reported that the largest animals in the oceans are going to be hit hardest according to study co-author Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist at the United Nations World Conservation Monitoring Center in England.  But there’s more — tropical areas, already warm, will also see the biggest losses,  according to Cheung.

One Bright Spot:  Study co-author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Canada, told the AP the “good news” is the decline will be less heavy in smaller organisms that are “the main building blocks of marine life,” such as plankton and bacteria.

Source: PNAS

Up Next

A New Playbook For Addressing Ocean Plastics

A New Playbook For Addressing Ocean Plastics

In advance of the sixth Our Ocean Conference later this week, the Ocean Conservancy released its latest report on ocean plastics recommending content standards for recycled products to increase the demand for them and that they impose fees on producers depending on the amount of packaging material they put on the market or their plastic recycling/recovery targets in order to increase single-use plastic collection.

Why This Matters:  It is significant that a group of companies that are responsible for much of the plastic that is sold — companies like Dow, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola — were part of this effort and stand behind these recommendations.  They know they have a problem.  But it will take their action — urging Congress and state and local legislatures to enact the necessary laws and ordinances — to make their recommendations a reality.

Continue Reading 471 words
Two Blobs – Both Scary – One Dying and One Now On Display

Two Blobs – Both Scary – One Dying and One Now On Display

In September, when ocean temperatures were five degrees above normal, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) feared the re-emergence of a large ocean heatwave in the Pacific, which was known as “The Blob” when it formed before in 2014-15 and wreaked havoc with ocean ecosystems and wildlife at the time.  But due to a major shift in the weather pattern in the Gulf of Alaska, this year’s warm ocean water “blob” has begun to weaken and is expected to continue to lose strength as storms in the Pacific churn up colder water. 

Meanwhile, a blob of another variety went on display over the weekend at the Paris Zoo — and according to Popular Mechanics, it isn’t an animal, plant, or fungus, it has 720 sexes but no brain, loves oatmeal and is a billion years old. 

Continue Reading 515 words
Moving Toward Electronic Monitoring in U.S. Fisheries – Step by Step

Moving Toward Electronic Monitoring in U.S. Fisheries – Step by Step

Fishers around the world are increasingly using electronic monitoring (EM) technologies such as cameras, gear sensors, and electronic reporting (ER) to improve the timeliness, quality, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility of fisheries data collection in commercial fishing operations, and the U.S. is working to keep pace.   A strong coalition of industry, managers and other stakeholders called the Net Gains Alliance recently funded four projects to find solutions to overcome specific barriers to greater EM/ER adoption.

Why This Matters:  Its time to bring fisheries management into the 21st century using the best available technology. 

Continue Reading 474 words