GENEVA – On World Oceans Day, the World Meteorological Organization warns that the continued rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere threatens the ecosystems of the world’s oceans.
Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, is the main driver of global warming. Scientists say that CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere for a very long time, from 300 to 1,000 years.
WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis said that due to this long lifespan, increased CO2 emissions will have a profound impact on future generations.
“We’re not just talking about one or two generations, we’re talking about multiple generations. Nullis said.
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The ocean absorbs about 23 percent of annual air emissions of carbon dioxide and acts as a buffer against climate change. The latest data from Hawaii’s atmospheric monitoring station, Mauna Loa Observatory, shows a significant increase in CO2 emissions in May compared to previous years.
Nullis says this causes ocean acidification, a phenomenon that will have a very serious impact on ocean ecosystems.
“This obviously has a very damaging effect on marine ecosystems, coral reefs… The ocean also absorbs 90 percent of the excess heat from human activities. And as a result, ocean heat is at an all time high and large parts of the ocean experience heat waves every year, ”Nullis said.
A recent report from two United Nations agencies notes that at least 25 percent of the world’s living corals have been lost over the past three decades due to ocean acidification and marine heat waves.
If the trend continues, agencies warn it could result in the loss of functioning coral reef ecosystems across much of the world by mid-century.
This has huge consequences, as coral reefs provide critical habitat for 25 percent of all marine life, estimated to number more than one million species.