The world’s leading marine scientists say the oceans are at a tipping point and that damage from climate change has been underestimated.
They address world leaders via a paper in the international journal Science ahead of climate change negotiations in Paris in November this year.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a co-author and the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute director, says solutions are still possible but we must act decisively at the Paris meeting.
“There’s compelling evidence that increases in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are already resulting in fundamental changes to the physical, chemical, and biological properties of our planet,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg says.
The paper draws on the extensive scientific assessment of the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans completed last year for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As coordinating lead author for the Oceans section of the United Nations study, Professor Hoegh-Guldberg says the chemical and physical conditions of the ocean are changing at rates, in some cases, faster than any seen over the past 65 million years.
“There is also high confidence that many marine organisms, their communities and ecosystems are undergoing fundamental change as the world’s oceans warm, acidify and lose oxygen,” he says.
“While deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are a must, we must also agree to rapidly rebuild the resilience of ecosystems and people against the rising tide of change.”
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