Our precious oceans are under threat from pollution, warming and acidification, over fishing and biodiversity loss. Not to mention the threats they themselves pose from rising sea levels. Global effort and careful stewardship are required to help to Save Our Seas. It’s time to heed our oceans’ SOS and to secure their future health and the survival of all that rely on them.
Oceans on the Brink
Climate affects the oceans and oceans affect the climate. For decades, our oceans have been absorbing carbon dioxide and capturing the extra heat that elevated atmospheric CO2 levels produce. But even the oceans have limits, and our actions are changing ocean circulation and chemistry and affecting the diversity and abundance of marine species.
Video link: Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2019
The video above shows how global surface temperatures have changed from 1880-2019. Even with their vast capacity to absorb heat and carbon dioxide, Earth’s oceans were 0.17 degrees Celsius warmer in 2017 than in 2000, and the trend is accelerating. More than 90% of Earth’s warming since 1950 has occurred in the oceans.
At least eight million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, making up 80% of all marine debris.
This ocean plastic pollution kills millions of marine animals every year. It can physically strangle some species, look like food to others, and microplastics (plastic fragment less than 5mm long) end up in animals’ (including our) systems. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to be harmed by plastics in their environments.
How Long Until it’s Gone
This graphic shows how long it will take different objects to break down in our oceans.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S.