Can The Oceans Cope With Any More?

Earlier this month President Barack Obama created the Atlantic Ocean's first United States marine monument, called the Northeast Cannons and Seamounts Marine national Monument.

President Obama made the announcement at an ocean conservation meeting

shortly after he issued a proclamation protecting an area of ocean off the coast of Cape Cod with a total area roughly equal to the size of Connecticut.

The move came after a week of disturbing news about the world's oceans.

One recent report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature shows that the oceans have absorbed much of the energy that's been added to Earth's atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

Another recent study published in "Global Biogeochemical Cycles" shows how all of the CO2 that we've dumped into the atmosphere is causing the oceans to acidify - which is having profound negative impacts on deep-sea shell-forming organisms like sea urchins and snails.

And another study from Stanford University showed that larger marine animals are going extinct faster than smaller animals - marking "a pattern that is unprecedented in the history of life on Earth, and one that is likely driven by human fishing."

How urgent are these threats to our oceans - and what type of efforts will it take to avoid an oceanic mass extinction event?

And what will it take to go even further - to repair our ocean's ecosystems?


Madravenspeak's picture
Madravenspeak 7 years 37 weeks ago

I think that even progressive talk shows and progressive candidates give short shrift to the plight of all the other species that weave the world together for us. When I call in to "progressive" shows, I do not get the back and forth dialogue that others get if they are talking about black lives matter or Donald Trump or Hillary - I get to say a bit about some horror slaughterhouse of tame or wild animals and "thank you for your comment".

We need to move to a plant - based diet. If the World Watch Institute is correct that 52% of climate change is caused by animal agriculture, one would not know it from talking to folks even. Cutting out toxic carcasses from our diet is a no brainer on every level - but still a taboo topic for non-profits and even Bill McKibben yet it could empower every citizen ( lacking government leadership ) to act immediately to mitigate climate change.

Right now in Wisconsin, 5,000 black bears, mostly cubs less than a year and a half old are being murdered with packs of dogs ripping them apart to add to the "fun" - one and a half times the number of people killed in 9/11 but we are such an arrogant animal species that this is not considered genocide? Ocean destruction of large mammals not considered genocide. Primates still experimented on in universities? Slaughterhouses with 65 billion farm animals deliberately raised for slaughter taking out rainforests to feed them all over the globe. What insanity that we do not talk about this at every opportunity to educate a disengaged and disenfranchised public citizenry.

dianhow 7 years 37 weeks ago

Mankinds Greed & short sightedness will Destroy the planet ! Out of control population growth will waste earths precious natural resources ! GOP will NOT pass ANY regulations to stop this disaster ! After all Its all about keeping the ruling class / billionaires Happy..NO matter the human cost ! Much of world is poor, uneducated, without clean water or sanitation. Most importantly, women lack access to birth control . Men in these countries keep it that way ! Educate women and the entire village, tribe benefits . Micro loans help small business's flourish.. women gain confidence , they educate their children and so it goes...

timallard's picture
timallard 7 years 37 weeks ago

The issue is called the aragonite saturation point, where calcium-carbonate shells start dissolving the pH globally to do this 7.9, we dropped pH -0.1 or 30% from 8.2 and the negative rate is increasing.

Within 60-years all Alaskan waters will be at or below this saturation point, today the Beaufort Sea is at unity and already showing damage to pteropod populations.

It's not just acidity also loss of multi-year 4-9 year-old sea-ice affecting seasonal changes to species with less ice and more light below that now support more plankton below the melt ponds than before ["ARCUS D.C. Arctic Research Seminar Series - 31 March 2016";55:33;].

Atmospheric CO2 off the Washington coast right now is 399.5, ocean is 279.6 a forcing of 119.9-ppm and they should be close to the same to not acidify for shellfish, this is real-time from the Cape Elizabeth platform:

Ending emissions is the ONLY way to reduce the forcing and slow the acidification which is 10-times faster than a mass-extinction, the long talk on ocean acidification [ "ICES ASC 2013 plenary lecture by Dr Richard Feely"; 1:01:08;].

Our global problem is like this, a full glacial cycle takes 100,000-years and CO2 varies 100-ppm, from 180-280-ppm.

During all those ice-ages the maximum CO2 was 305±5-ppm, ok, we passed that about 1916 and since then added 100-ppm !!

That's a glacial cycle in only 100-years and it's all ABOVE the highest CO2 value ever reached in a million years, acidifying the oceans 10-times faster than an extinction event.

We must exit the Steam Age for electrons, most grid power is for thermal end-uses not electricity so to switch will only take 5-years, maybe 2-months if it was a war.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 37 weeks ago

"Thou shall have dominion over the Earth and all the creatures there on."

That line, from Christian theology (mythology?), was a death sentence for Mother Earth.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 37 weeks ago

Stecoop01 - who said that then?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 37 weeks ago

As a layman your facts and figures appear incredible

I do not doubt intention

But, may I ask where is this information gathered from?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 37 weeks ago

timallard - the reply obviously didn't... sorry!

As a layman your facts and figures appear incredible

I do not doubt intention

But, may I ask where is this information gathered from?

bobcix's picture
bobcix 7 years 37 weeks ago

When I was a little boy and listening to my mother and father discussing Darwin, during my father's studies to become ordained as a Protestant minister, my father took me to the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and also the the coal mine pits spotted throughout our southern Indiana counties. In both instances there were many feet of limestone covering the coal layer or beneath the coal seams. Dad showed my the small crustacean shells and skeletons of animals that had inhabited the oceans many millions of years ago. Later I climbed down into the Grand Canyon whee some of the layers of limestone are 400 feet or so thick. It should be obvious to the casual observer that during the times of such limestone layers being laid down that the carbon dioxide concentration nut have been pretty high. The earth recovered and mankind developed. Explain this to me so I can understand it.

SueN's picture
SueN 7 years 37 weeks ago

Humans were't around then.

One big difference is that the rate of change was much slower then, and life could adapt to it.

Earth will survive. Whether we will, or many other forms of life, is another matter. There have been several big extinctions, and it took a long time for much of that life to be replaced by other species.

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