Three essential elements for mass extinction present in oceans

MADRID — The perilous state of the world’s oceans and their link to climate breakdown was highlighted at a mandated presentation today at COP25 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists who wrote the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. The information from this report, along with other special reports, must be considered by delegates as they continue their negotiations.

Oceans are in danger of irreparable damage if the climate crisis is not prevented, according to the scientists. In discussing the third of three reports released by the IPCC this year, presenters noted that the effects of climate breakdown on the ocean are pervasive, long-lasting and fundamentally dangerous to all life on Earth.

“The climate crisis is an ocean crisis. The science confirms that the impacts on the ocean that have already occurred through climate breakdown are now locked into the system and cannot be stopped. What we can stop are the other human-made impacts that further undermine the health of the ocean – impacts from pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction – and the carbon emissions that will exacerbate these,” said David Suzuki Foundation CEO Stephen Cornish. “These are all areas where Canada can play a leadership role.”

This COP was positioned by the original host country Chile as a Blue COP. “The deteriorating ocean should be a strong motivator for the world leaders to increase their ambitions to hold warming at 1.5 C in line with the Paris Agreement. We are looking for a signal from the Canadian government that they will follow through on their commitment for a more ambitious NDC for 2030 by next year,” Cornish said.

The deteriorating health of oceans is particularly impactful to the growing population of people in the world, most of them among the most vulnerable, that get their primary protein source from wild or farmed seafood. “There is recognition at this COP that wealthy countries such as Canada must address these sorts of disproportionate impacts by stepping up on the climate side and doing their fair share for those communities,” Cornish said.

“The ocean has helped prevent the worst impacts of climate breakdown. Its ability to continue to do so is weakening and the consequences of this are catastrophic for all of us – most immediately, those who depend on the ocean for food, storm protection and livelihood.”

In every mass extinction event in Earth’s history three factors have been present: deoxygenation, heating and acidification. Because of climate breakdown, all three are present in the ocean now.

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