21 Jun 2011:
Dire State of Oceans
Portends Mass Extinctions, Study Says
A series of marine threats — including warming waters, ocean acidification, the spread of oxygen-free dead zones, habitat loss, and overfishing — are pushing the world’s oceans toward a phase of mass extinctions
not seen in millions of years, according to a new report by a consortium of marine scientists. In a report sponsored by the International Programme on the State of the Oceans (IPSO)
, the scientists said that the rates of coral loss, fish stock depletion, open-water “dead zones,” and toxic algae blooms have surpassed even the worst-case projections of just four years ago. And these trends could portend significantly wider disruptions on the world’s marine ecosystems; all five mass extinctions in the planet’s history — the most recent of which occurred 55 million years ago — were preceded by similar ocean conditions, scientists say. “The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, scientific director of IPSO. “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized.” The group called on states, regional bodies and the UN to establish programs to better conserve ocean ecosystems — particularly in the largely unprotected high seas that make up most of the planet’s oceans — and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.