The oceans as we know them will be radically different and irreparably damaged by 2100 according to scientists. The results will mean fantastic changes for coastal cities, marine life and the environment as we know it.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA, likes to say, “There is only one global ocean.” Through pollution, overfishing and downright neglect for our waters, we have progressively charted it to a future that can only been compared to a scene from a Hollywood post-apocalyptic movie.
According to climatologist Michael Mann, who recently published a landmark study on the world’s oceans, “in a worst case scenario, i.e. one in which we pursue business-as-usual through the end of the century, the oceans will look something out of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood flick. We are talking about the depletion of fish populations by overfishing, the massive die-off of much other sea life due to water pollution and ocean acidification, the destruction of coral reefs by the twin impacts of ocean acidification and bleaching by increasingly warm ocean waters.”
Climatologists have mapped the changes to occur in various forms. According to Mann, the first manifestation will be rising tides. As it stands, the oceans are growing because of two factors: melting Arctic ice and thermal expansion.
The world’s oceans absorb over 90 per cent of the excess heat from the earth. This causes sea expansion that is worsened by the thawing of ice at the Arctics.
Scientists have predicted that if this goes on, by 2100, ocean levels will have risen by 5 feet, meaning most of New Orleans, Miami and New York will be swallowed by water. In other coastal cities around the world, the damage will be colossal.
Hot water is the other manifestation. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Over the last 39 years, oceans have warmed at average rates of >0.1˚C per decade in the upper 75 meter and 0.015˚C per decade at 700 m depth.”
The increased heating causes coral to bleach. Combined with increased acidification from pollutants, “Nearly every coral reef could be dying by 2100 if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue,” says a report published on the journal Science.
The hot water will produce terrifyingly powerful storms, heightened and frequent flooding, increased low-oxygen marine dead zones and the homelessness of millions of polar and aquatic animals.
But it gets worse. Acid splash is another forthcoming effect. Up to 40 per cent of all carbon emissions are drawn back to earth where they form carbonic acid. Predictions have placed the ocean’s acidity to increase by over 150 per cent more than during the industrial era. This will spell certain death for up to 96 per cent of marine life.
Columbia University Scientist taro Takahashi said, “I agree with their prediction for the magnitude of acidification: the pH of surface ocean water decreases from today's about 8.1 to about 7.75 by 2100 (an increase of 225 percent in the hydrogen ion concentrations).”
The new study paints a picture of oceans that are fast depreciating. If things do not change, our children and their children may never get to swim, surf or even come close to the open seas, which by that time will become a toxic swamp. The research shows that radical steps need to be taken immediately to safeguard our planet’s future. The good news is, this doesn’t have to be our future, we can change things. Assuming world leaders have the will to do so.