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Three main drivers are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of humans activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling level oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia.
Up to now, these and other impacts have been studied mainly in isolation. Only recently have scientists began to understand how these forces interact. "We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts," Rogers said.
"That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted." Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment.
The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth's climate system.
Oceans act as a massive sponge, soaking up more than a quarter of the CO2 humans pump into the atmosphere.
But when the sponge becomes too saturated, it can disrupt the delicately balanced ecosystems on which marine life -- and ultimately all life on Earth -- depends.
"The rate at which carbon is being absorbed is already far greater now than during the last globally significant extinction of marine species 55 million years ago," when some 50 percent of deep-sea life was wiped out, the report said.
That event, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, may be an ancient dress rehearsal for future climate change that could be even more abrupt and more damaging, some scientists fear. Pollution has also taken a heavy toll, rendering the oceans less resilient to climate change.
Runoff from nitrogen-rich fertiliser, killer microbes, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, for example, have all contributed to the mass die-off of corals, crucial not just for marine ecosystems but a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people too.
The harvesting up to 90 percent of some species of big fish and sharks, meanwhile, has hugely disrupted food chains throughout the ocean, leading to explosive and imbalanced growth of algae, jellyfish and other "opportunistic" flora and fauna.
"We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation," said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report.
"And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems," he told AFP by phone.
Originally posted by Sinter Klaas
Two threads who cares some may miss the other 2 everybody should red this article and relize that it's not just beginning to get bad... The last century has caused countless of extinctions mostluy do to us.
Reading this article just makes me want cry and be held by anyone who feels the same.