May sees record temperatures as experts point to global warming’s devastating effects on oceans, from melting ice to acidification.
As the United Nations celebrates World Oceans Day this Thursday, alarming news has been added to the list of environmental concerns.
Surface seas had their warmest May on record.
This worrisome trend is part of a wider context of global warming, which experts say has “unprecedented cascading effects”.
These effects include melting sea ice, ocean heat waves, and ocean acidification. Rapid melting of ice sheets is contributing to sea level rise, threatening coastal populations and fragile coastal ecosystems.
Ocean heat waves, on the other hand, disrupt marine ecosystems, leading to species migration and habitat destruction.
Finally, the acidification of the oceans as a result of the absorption of carbon dioxide by seawater can have harmful effects on coral reefs and marine life along with shells.
Industrial fishing and plastic pollution: additional threats
In addition to the direct effects of global warming, experts highlight the devastating impact of industrial fishing and plastic pollution in the oceans.
According to Lucy Woodall, associate professor of marine conservation biology and policy at the University of Exeter, these multiple pressures have a major impact on how the oceans function and the benefits they provide to the entire planet.
Uncontrolled or poorly regulated industrial fishing endangers marine life and fragile ecosystems. At the same time, plastic pollution, one of the most harmful wastes to the environment, is a major challenge.
That’s why a draft agreement to end plastic pollution was agreed last week, a preliminary but important step in the fight against this scourge.
Urgent solutions: reducing CO2 emissions and creating protected areas
Experts are calling for immediate action in the face of these growing threats. Reducing global carbon emissions is critical to reducing ocean warming. Currently, the ocean already absorbs 25% of all CO2 emissions, but its absorption capacity is reaching its limit.
Cassandra Brooks, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, emphasizes the importance of creating large-scale protected areas to protect the oceans and their fragile biodiversity.
World Oceans Day should be an opportunity for countries to come together and come up with possible solutions, both nationally and internationally, to address the damage caused by the climate crisis.
By finalizing a draft agreement to end plastic pollution, the international community marks a significant step forward. However, much more needs to be done to protect our oceans, these precious ecosystems that play such a vital role for our planet.