Enormous Ocean Die Off and Hottest Year in Recorded History

Like kids playing with matches in a barn full of hay, we have been warned repeatedly.  But we just can’t quit.  Something about the excitement of risk, perhaps.  Now, again, it comes:

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science. … humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

Just a few examples:

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years.  NY Times

Timeline of Defaunation

Timeline of Defaunation (click for full)

Humans have profoundly decreased the abundance of both large (e.g., whales) and small (e.g., anchovies) marine fauna. Such declines can generate waves of ecological change that travel both up and down ma­rine food webs and can alter ocean ecosystem functioning. Human harvesters have also been a major force of evolutionary change in the oceans and have reshaped the genetic structure of marine animal populations. Climate change threatens to accelerate marine defaunation over the next century.

Says the abstract at Science

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And, methane emissions from the well-fed conferees at climate change conferences are adding to the warming problem…

Last year was the hottest in earth’s recorded history, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring scientific warnings about the risks of runaway emissions and undermining claims by climate-change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped.

Extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States last year. Several European countries set temperature records. And the ocean surface was unusually warm virtually everywhere except around Antarctica, the scientists said, providing the energy that fueled damaging Pacific storms.

In the annals of climatology, 2014 now surpasses 2010 as the warmest year in a global temperature record that stretches back to 1880. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human emissions …  NY Times

One Response to Enormous Ocean Die Off and Hottest Year in Recorded History

  1. russ says:

    Ocean extinction may be coming but not as a result of the ‘usual suspects’ as this report claims. The report ignores the near trillion ton and ocean lethal dose of CO2 already emitted into the air that is destroying ocean pasture primary productivity. Even worse the report ignores this first lethal dose of CO2 and maintains the oceans are still “wild enough to save” by just leaving them alone. The fossil fuel age will continue for a long time to come and even if by some miracle not one single additional molecule of CO2 were emitted into the air the CO2 now in the air is certain doom if we do nothing.

    We can restore and replenish the ocean pasture productivity, bring back the fish, and in doing so provide the anti-dote for the deadly CO2 now killing ocean life. Here’s how…http://russgeorge.net/2015/01/20/reports-ocean-extinction-usual-suspects/

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