If the research is done well and the conclusions are peer-reviewed, then this is some sad news.
Planktonic plants and animals at the base of the marine food chain make all life on Earth possible. Without them the atmosphere would be toxic from carbon dioxide, we would have no oxygen and there would be no whales, birds or fish in the oceans.
Over the last 70 years, more than 50% of all marine life has been lost from the world’s oceans, and it continues to decline at rate of 1% year on year. Atmospheric carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification, and a loss of marine plants and animals accelerates the process.
A small increase in acidity caused by carbon dioxide dissolves magnesium calcite and aragonite, forms of calcium carbonate upon which 50% of all marine life including plankton and coral reefs are composed. Over the next 25 years, the pH will continue to drop from pH8.04 to pH7.95, and an estimated 80% to 90% of all marine life will be lost from the oceans. Even if the world achieves net zero by 2045, atmospheric carbon dioxide will still exceed 500ppm and the oceans will still drop to pH 7.95.
Based on current climate change policy of carbon mitigation, we will not be able to stop the loss of most marine life, which includes fish and the food supply for 3 billion people. In addition, we lose the life support system for the planet. This decline has gone largely unnoticed because most of the plants and animals in the oceans are under 1 mm in size and they are not closely monitored. By way of an example: Prochlorococcus, a cyanobacteria responsible for making 20% of our oxygen, was only discovered in the 1985.
Ocean acidification and climate change cannot adequately describe the loss of marine life. 30% of the ocean have high nutrient (nitrate) concentrations but zero or only low plant growth. If it is not the lack of nutrients or trace nutrients, responsible for the loss of marine life, then this just leaves aquatic environmental pollution as the last plausible explanation. The impact of chemical and micro-plastic pollution on planktonic marine life has been almost completed ignored by the scientific community, and as such industry and governments have not been alerted to the impending threat to the oceans.
This is potentially a good news story, because the solution will be to eliminate pollution from plastic and toxic chemicals or develop green alternatives that do not harm to the environment or humans. We still need to reduce carbon from the burning of fossil fuels, but the priority over the next 25 years should be to protect the oceans, because all life on earth depends upon marine life in the world’s oceans.
Life on earth depends upon healthy Oceans, we have 10 years to stop toxic chemical pollution, or life on earth may become impossible
- Dr. Howard Dryden, CSO