Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This subspecies of the beluga whale, which is native to the Arctic, is considered critically endangered and is under the protection of the United States' Endangered Species Act. (Photo: BrianGratwicke/cc/flickr)

This subspecies of the beluga whale, which is native to the Arctic, is considered critically endangered and is under the protection of the United States' Endangered Species Act. (Photo: BrianGratwicke/cc/flickr)

As Planet Warms, Oceans Face Threatening Changes Unseen in 3 Million Years

New study predicts major disruptions to entire world ecology under both moderate and severe warming levels

Lauren McCauley

Continued warming of the world's oceans may trigger disruptions to marine life not seen in 3 million years, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study, put forth by scientists from the University of Science and Technology in Lille, France, and other institutions, aims to put the anticipated ecological crisis in historic perspective.

Among the foreseen changes are extinction of some of the ocean's keystone species as well as the widespread influx of invasive plants and animals particularly in "temperate and polar biomes."

Stop!

We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit organization. We fund our news team by pooling together many small contributions from our readers. No advertising. No selling our readers’ information. No reliance on big donations from the 1%. This allows us to maintain the editorial independence that our readers rely on. But this media model only works if enough readers pitch in.
We urgently need your help today.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, your gift today is critical.
Please give now to our Mid-Year Fundraiser!

"Climate change may rapidly reorganize marine diversity over large oceanic regions,” states the report. "The intensity of this reorganization will depend, unsurprisingly, on the magnitude of warming."

According to the report, a "moderate warming" scenario, with projected global warming ranging from 0.9 to 2.6º C, "will increase by threefold the changes already observed over the past 50 years."

However, of most concern is that severe warming, with a projected increase of 0.8 to 4.8°C, "will affect marine biodiversity to a greater extent than temperature changes that took place between either the Last Glacial Maximum or the mid-Pliocene and today," impacting as much as 70 percent of the world's oceans. 

The effects of both the moderate and severe scenarios will ultimately impact humans, said co-author Richard Kirby, with Britain's University of Plymouth, as the global ecosystem will inevitably be altered.

"When the temperature of the environment changes, animals and plants change in abundance locally or may move to new locations if the habitat is suitable," Kirby said. "These movements ultimately affect the food web and ecology, and if they are rapid, the food web may become uncoupled."

The study, Kirby continued, highlights "the changes in the Earth’s biology that may lie ahead if we do not address global warming."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·


US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos ·


New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo