Quiz: What Causes Mass Planetary Extinction Events? Asteroids – yes. Volcanic eruptions – those too. But what are the biggest causes of extinction events now and in the foreseeable future? people.
A new study investigates what the oceans of the future could look like if we continued to burn all the fossil fuels within our reach. If we do, the future of the ocean is indeed grim. The researchers applied a robust Earth system model that faithfully reproduced the behavior of the oceans, land and atmosphere for the future.
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Uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels will lead to mass extinction events in the ocean in the distant future, researchers have found. By 2300, ocean warming and reduced oxygen will wipe out the vast diversity of marine life that has flooded the ocean for the past 50 million years. The authors compared what was about to happen to what geoscientists call the “Great Dying.” It was the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history about 250 million years ago, driven by a huge uptick in planetary volcanism. About 90% of marine life and 70% of land life were wiped out.
Yes, you heard that right. If we do not act quickly, humanity will be directly responsible for the next mass death.
But the researchers also show that there is still hope for the oceans. If we limit global warming to below 2°C, the loss of marine species will be minimized. Better at 1.5°C as it protects stony corals and other species most at risk. But limiting global warming to this level requires immediate, decisive changes to the most polluting behaviors that put our global society on this path.
How will we save the ocean we love?
Will we upend our bad habits, greed and obsession with convenience to reimagine what our global society would look like? Are we brave enough to quickly embrace solutions that are ready to help us do this? The science is clear, many technologies are available, and the cost of using them continues to fall.
So many ocean-based solutions already exist to help change the future. We can decarbonize our transportation and manufacturing and transition to renewable energy on land and sea. By investing in people and communities, especially those most affected by climate change, we can create a society that revolves around the common good rather than the immediate benefits of a few. The Marine Conservation Society is working on these and other climate solutions.
Another option is to continue the short-sighted habits that appealed to us in previous generations, and be responsible for the next big planetary extinction. Technically we have a choice – but to me there is only one answer. Climate action is critical. Take action today and urge our leaders to act now on climate to avoid a devastating future for our oceans.
The post It’s Not Too Late to Prevent Mass Extinction in Our Oceans appeared first on Ocean Conservancy.