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Humans Pushing Ocean Life to Extinction, Says Study

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It seems humans have proven their immense and uncontrollable power once again, as the oceans, the salty blue expanse that covers some 70% of the Earth’s surface, are set to face irrevocable damages.

A group of researchers have analyzed information from hundreds of sources and concluded humans have pushed the oceans to the brink of unprecedented problems. Published in the journal Science, this comprehensive analysis, which studied fossil records, migration, seabed mining, fishing, and involved many other factors and syntheses, details an immediate and distant future where plant and animal life underwater will go extinct.

“We may well be sitting down on a precipice of a significant extinction function,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the College of California, Santa Barbara, and a creator of the new research.

The report states how climate change has aided in the erosion of coral reefs, with carbon emissions making seawater more acidic. Fish farms, the prevalence of container ships, and the use of bottom trawlers around the world alter and affect species and their habitats. What’s more, 460,000 square miles underwater have been contracted out for mining operations to date. In 2000, that number was zero; with this latest threat introducing unforeseen pollution and ecosystems destruction.

Species on land go extinct more rapidly than those in the sea. Only recently have the oceans begun to see the same damages that terrestrial life has experienced; a demonstration of humanity’s far and potent reach.

Yet there is hope, says the report. “We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

At the same time, action needs to be taken, lest we sit idly by and see the ocean as some indestructible body.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” said Dr. Stephen R Palumbi of Stanford University, and another author of the study. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”

Via New York Times

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