by Anshul Dash
According to a new scientific review, the world’s oceans are proving to be resilient despite advancing problems such as pollution and ocean acidification. Scientists say that if they continue to mitigate these problems by building off of that resilience, then the ocean can fully recover within three decades. However, there are still a few obstacles in the way, such as climate change and lack of awareness from existing conservation efforts.
Humans have been polluting the oceans for centuries, but the effects of these actions have become clear in the last 50 years. Many marine have been hunted almost to extinction, and oceans have been poisoned by oil spills and plastic debris. Climate change has also caused coral to bleach and the ocean pH to decrease due to chemical reactions with water and carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid. Ocean acidification negatively affects marine animals with shells made of calcium carbonate since it dissolves in carbonic acid solution.
The new review reveals that although the presence of these problems and its effects are huge, there are many forms of resilience in the oceans. For example, ever since the ban on commercial whaling, the number of humpback whales has greatly increased. In addition, according to the IUCN, the percentage of marine species seen as endangered has fallen from 18% in 2000 to 11.4% in 2019.
Researchers have identified nine crucial components that can rebuild the oceans: salt marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, kelp, oyster reefs, fisheries, megafauna and the deep ocean. Clearly, the ocean has several methods to be resilient against ocean acidification, but it’s pertinent for the human race to help.
However, although these actions may seem to not require much effort, climate change is proving to challenge this. Along with adding on raising sea levels and acidifying the water, rebuilding tropical reefs will be difficult because of already rising temperatures. Another problem is money. According to the new review, it will cost about $10-20 billion a year to rebuild marine life by 2050. Scientists agree that the money is readily available from the national spending budget, which greatly emphasizes the military rather than the biggest problem we face, climate change. The return on this investment, moreover, is a resilient ocean that will provide $10 for every dollar put in.
Even though many governments have many other issues that they have to deal with, such as the infamous COVID-19 pandemic, they have stated that rescuing the oceans is an achievable goal and that is something that they should invest in. With this in mind, stopping sea level rise and the detrimental effects climate change is having on marine life is a big step towards solving this global issue altogether.