The oceans are in a far worse state than previously thought, according to a prestigious group of scientists. Of course, doom-and-gloom environmental stories are so common they’re almost yawn-inducing. But this one is different, insists Time’s Bryan Walsh. The state of the oceans never gets the coverage it really deserves and a report issued by the International Program on the State of the Ocean reveals things are more dire for the marine world than previously thought.
Sure, there’s overfishing, and global warming has created dead zones in the oceans. But the truth is far more frightening as we are “at high risk for entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history,” notes the report written by a global panel of experts. In what is the report’s most stark and shocking suggestion, scientists say that the unprecedented loss of species could be directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions of prehistory. Indeed, the panel of 27 scientists say that a “combination of stressors is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth’s history.”
Also shocking is how the scientists detail that the speed and rate at which the oceans are degenerating is much faster than anyone had previously predicted, notes the Independent. In fact, the scientists say that the first steps of a mass extinction may have already begun and some entire marine ecosystems may vanish within a generation.
Overfishing is certainly one of the problems, but it’s the easiest for governments to reverse. Meanwhile, the “deadly trio” of global warming, ocean acidification, and lack of water oxygen, which led to most, if not all, of the five “global mass extinctions” in history are also present in the ocean today, notes CNN. In its report, the panel concluded that “a new extinction event was inevitable if the current trajectory of damage continues.”