The Oceans Could be Cesspits of Death by 2050

By Gary Cutlack on at

The latest report into the dangers of global warming and the gradual acidification of the oceans suggests we could see a complete collapse of the marine food chain by 2050, unless we... do something.

This most recent bit of eco-horror has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where an aggregate of some 632 separate ecological studies has been created to find that, to put it bluntly, you wouldn't want to be something that lives in the sea or eats fish a few years from now.

The key issue is that a triumvirate of doom -- global warming, overfishing and chemical pollution -- are coming together to potentially break the sea. Warming waters and acidification are combining to make it hard for many species to adapt, with the speed of the changes likely to result in massive loss of shellfish species and corals, also changing the lifespans of plankton to disrupt the entire ocean food chain.

Report author associate professor Ivan Nagelkerken said: "Overall, we found there’s a decrease in species diversity and abundance irrespective of what ecosystem we are looking at. These are broad scale impacts, made worse when you combine the effect of warming with acidification."

And it's already underway, with the paper explaining: "We are seeing an increase in hypoxia, which decreases the oxygen content in water, and also added stressors such as overfishing and direct pollution. These added pressures are taking away the opportunity for species to adapt to climate change." [Guardian]

Image credit: Sea life from Shutterstock