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Ocean life faces mass extinction. - NYTIMES

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A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty: It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.

Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.

A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.

“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.

There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.

Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.

The fossil record indicates that a number of large animal species became extinct as humans arrived on continents and islands. For example, the moa, a giant bird that once lived on New Zealand, was wiped out by arriving Polynesians in the 1300s, probably within a century.

But it was only after 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, that extinctions on land really accelerated.

Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.

Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished. Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.

While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.

“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said. “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”

Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.

Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans. The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.

“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said. “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”

Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.

The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.

“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”

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I saw that and read it... but, with me they are preaching to the choir. I'm a believer and have been for a long time. It's the deniers that worry me. But, I can't change anyone else.

"What we do not deal with is self-deception." Capt Queenan... The Departed.

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Thanks. Saw that, and noted it mentioned the species migration to cooler waters we seem to be observing. Yesterday they also released report that 2014 was the hottest year on record.

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Yup it's def always been a problem, but some people are idiots and think "oh it's fine"...... Yeah very far from that! It's gonna be to late by the time people wake up.....fish while there's still fish because that may not last forever :(

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I become suspicious when manipulated data is presented as "the only true data".


For instance: Any "scientist" that tells you that they "Know" what the ambient temperature of the Earth is suppose to be, and how we have deviated from that temperature because of human intervention, is either an ignorant egotist, or has an agenda to get their hands in your pocket.



 

Because we are not Sheep does not mean that we "Deny" anything but the usual Male Bovine Feces that Political Scientists spoon feed the knee jerk, low information voter.



Don't even start with the "denier" crap.


Of course there IS climate change.



(IMO the loony tunes have adopted Climate Change form Global Warming so that hot or cold they can put their Smug Face on, nod their Bobble Heads, and chant "We Told You So)


Geologically (yes that would mean further back than 200 years of data that was taken in several different manners) we are still warming Climate wise from the last ice age.


Have Humans exacerbated that change? Of course they have.


Is Climate Change (et al) BECAUSE of Humans?


Of course IT IS NOT.


 



Keith

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I become suspicious when manipulated data is presented as "the only true data".

 

For instance: Any "scientist" that tells you that they "Know" what the ambient temperature of the Earth is suppose to be, and how we have deviated from that temperature because of human intervention, is either an ignorant egotist, or has an agenda to get their hands in your pocket.

 

Because we are not Sheep does not mean that we "Deny" anything but the usual Male Bovine Feces that Political Scientists spoon feed the knee jerk, low information voter.

 

Don't even start with the "denier" crap.

 

Of course there IS climate change.

(IMO the loony tunes have adopted Climate Change form Global Warming so that hot or cold they can put their Smug Face on, nod their Bobble Heads, and chant "We Told You So)

 

Geologically (yes that would mean further back than 200 years of data that was taken in several different manners) we are still warming Climate wise from the last ice age.

 

Have Humans exacerbated that change? Of course they have.

 

Is Climate Change (et al) BECAUSE of Humans?

 

Of course IT IS NOT.

 

 

Keith

 

 

For me it's really simple. I prefer to play the odds .... I'll act as if they are right and figure humans are causing it and we can help fix it and do my part. I figure if I act as if we aren't responsible and do nothing because I just don't buy it... and I'm wrong and they are right... then I, my kids and my grandkids are screwed. It really is that simple. My observations of the rest of the species on our planet and how they interact with each other and how they interact with the environment, has caused me to question the concept that humans area at the top of the heap in some categories. So, when I see what damage is caused to so much of what we ultimately need for our survival long term, and how much of it is caused by my noble species, I find more comfort in taking action and responsibility than saying it just ain't so, so why bother. Meanwhile from the early 50's for your listening enjoyment... this old classic... enjoy. I have nothing further to add. Have at it folks.

 

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I agree, you definitely can't take a politicians word on anything as they do not have anybody's best interests in mind, how ever you should take a common sense approach to all things that can be done day to day to help the situation. The Earth will do what the Earth will do regardless of our species.   


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i just feel there are bigger proponents against ovean conservancy such as the oil companies and commercial fishing industry. Being in the field of scientific research, I have no doubt that grant money can be partial to their results but you do agree human are exacerbating ocean and climate condition. This is still in line with what they're saying though right? Well, either way, climate change or no climate change, the fish are doom with all these demands for seafood.

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Three words: New York Times

 

Well that's just plain dumb. If you do a search for this study about 100 news sources reported it and none of them did the study. Sorry, but ignorance is not helping anyone, yourself included.

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it cracks me up that scientists from around the world can say that global warming is causing climate change, and there are still people who refuse to believe its real....

 

do you believe smoking causes lung cancer? how about the speed of light? any problems with that?

 

or are those scientists corrupt and only trying to get grant money too?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gantz88 View Post



i just feel there are bigger proponents against ovean conservancy such as the oil companies and commercial fishing industry. Being in the field of scientific research, I have no doubt that grant money can be partial to their results but you do agree human are exacerbating ocean and climate condition. This is still in line with what they're saying though right? Well, either way, climate change or no climate change, the fish are doom with all these demands for seafood.


I take issue with their data when they fail to disclose the differences in temperature recording over the last 200 years.



From equipment to measurement technique and how they rationalize those differences.



To me it is no different than the poofter from the ObamaCare panel " of course we skewed the data, it was the only way we would get it past the voters". (paraphrased)


If you think that the East Coast Stripers have it bad, take the time over lunch someday and look at what happens to Dolphin in Mexico (That would be Dorado/Dolphin Fish/Mahi Mahi)


 


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It's why I stopped ordering it in restaurants.  I won't eat it unless I catch it, or buy it on the beach from a local guy that is feeding his family.


Keith


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