Global warming will cause irreversible damage to marine life in the world’s oceans if left unchecked, a new study says.
The results of the study, released on Thursday, confirm that global warming is both forcing fish to search for cooler waters and destroying valuable undersea habitats, including coral reefs.
According to the research, human beings as the biggest contributors to climate change have two scenarios to avoid further consequences of global warming for sea creatures.
In one scenario, atmospheric warming can be limited to two degrees by 2100, as outlined by the Copenhagen Accord. In the other, the current approach can be kept, which researchers say will cause a five-degree increase in atmospheric temperatures.
The Copenhagen Accord is a political agreement struck by world leaders at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. It calls on participating countries to pledge specific actions they will undertake to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, which have a negative impact on the climate.
If global warming at the current rate continues unchecked, “fish will migrate away from their current habitats 65 percent faster, resulting in changes to biodiversity and ecosystem functions,” the study warned.
The research examined how climate change is projected to affect oceans, marine life and can potentially cost hundreds of billions of dollars in financial damage to the global economy every year.
“Between 1971 and 2010, the oceans have absorbed approximately 93% of the excess heat caused by global warming, leading to several major changes such as the increase in stratification, limitation in the circulation of nutrients from deep waters to the surface, and sea level rise,” the study said.
“All the species and services we get from the ocean will be impacted,” said co-author William Cheung, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia.
“Immediate and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required in order to prevent the massive and effectively irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services that are projected,” the research added.
The study also said that over time, the ocean will become less capable of absorbing carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, such as petroleum.
Such pollution leads to rising acidification and harms marine life, which will ultimately impact negatively the lives of human beings.
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