A new paper just published in Science summarizes the projected impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans, and consequently on humans and our economy.
The study concludes that global warming beyond the international limit of 2øC above pre-industrial temperatures would pose serious threats to marine ecosystems and their millions of human dependents.
It builds on the consensus science published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year.
The study concludes the oceans have absorbed over 90% of the excess heat and 28% of the carbon pollution generated by human consumption of fossil fuels.
As the authors of the paper note, in many regions, the ocean plays an important role in the livelihood and food supply of human populations.
Hundreds of millions of people rely on the coastal protection, tourism and food provided by coral reef ecosystems.
However, the authors of this study note that the dual threats of global warming and ocean acidification pose a serious threat to coral reefs. The study also makes a critical and often-overlooked point.
Some people believe Geo-engineering is a better or more practical solution than curbing our carbon pollution.
Geo-engineering proposals often involve s lowing global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, for example by pumping sulfur high into the atmosphere, or putting large mirrors into orbit.
However, these proposals wouldn’t curb human carbon emissions, and hence wouldn’t slow the accumulation of carbon in the oceans, or the resulting ocean acidification.
Ultimately, the authors warn that immediate action to cut carbon pollution is critical if we want to curb the rapid and dangerous impacts already being observed in the world’s oceans.