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In an alarming new report, scientists warn of impending mass extinction unlike any that human history has seen before. The preliminary report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) warned of dire consequences in our oceans because of pollution, overfishing, and global warming.
“The findings are shocking,” Dr. Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director, said in a statement released by the group. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”
The scientific panel that made up the IPSO concluded that degeneration in the oceans is happening much faster than has been predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the precise conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth’s history. According to the report, three major factors have been present in the handful of mass extinctions that have occurred in the past: an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates “dead zones”) in the oceans, warming and acidification. The panel stated the combination of these factors will cause a mass marine extinction. All these factors occur to some degree in the world’s oceans currently.
This latest report is only one of many reports in the scientific community warning of the dire conditions of our environment. A recent World Resources Institute report suggests that all coral reefs could be gone by 2050 if no action is taken to protect them. A study published earlier this year in BioScience declared oysters as “functionally extinct” because their populations have been destroyed by over-harvesting and disease. Just last week scientists forecasted that this year’s Gulf “dead zone” will be the largest in history due to increased runoff from the Mississippi River dragging in high levels of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers. A recent study in the journal Nature suggests that not only will the next mass extinction be man-made, but that it could already be underway.
“The challenges for the future of the ocean are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen,” Dan Laffoley of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and co-author of the report said in a press release for the new report. “The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent.”
But will politicians listen?