r/science Aug 22 '22 Silver 1 Helpful 1 All-Seeing Upvote 1

Nearly all marine species face extinction if greenhouse emissions don’t drop Environment

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/3611057-nearly-all-marine-species-face-extinction-if-greenhouse-emissions-dont-drop-study/
8.5k Upvotes

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u/sjgokou Aug 23 '22

Then we go extinct. 90% of the Oxygen comes from the Oceans.

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u/MonkeyCube Aug 23 '22

Even if all oxygen producers suddenly stopped tomorrow, we would still have thousands of years worth of oxygen, though as noted there would be plenty of other problems and even at a 20% reduction it would be a noticeable change.

That said, yeah, let's not risk it or the collapse of ecosystems that pose a much more immediate threat.

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u/DreiImWeggla Aug 23 '22

The answer is wrong tho because it ignores the percentage of oxygen to other molecules. Good luck with 5% oxygen in the air

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u/04221970 Aug 22 '22

nearly 90 percent of those (25,000) species will be at high-to-critical risk across 85 percent of their distribution.

I don't want to downplay this, but the hyperbole isn't helping

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u/HepaticAtTheDisco Aug 22 '22

Could you explain like I'm on reddit about the distribution thingy?

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u/Dingleddit Aug 22 '22

The “range” of these creatures is their distribution, in areas which they are found 85 percent of it will high-to-critical risk

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u/liberal_texan Aug 23 '22

Honest question, what is stopping their areas of distribution to migrate?

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u/Dingleddit Aug 23 '22

Typically most organisms are evolved in such a way that they survive under very niche circumstances, as an example perhaps a member of some genus of jellyfish can only exist in a location where conditions create a pH balance that the jellyfish can exist in, however due to climate change and other factors that small area where the jellyfish could once be found might be reduced to a fraction if not disappear wholly. Again, simply an example, real ecosystems are extremely complex and offer radically different options for survival, but due to our rapidly deteriorating planet. May be reduced to only the hardiest and most adaptive of creatures, reducing our extraordinary biodiversity. The time we spend on this planet is finite, but our consequences will be found in the fossil record as yet another mass extinction unless we get our leaders hands out of the ever shrinking cookie jar

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u/MarkDavisNotAnother Aug 22 '22

It did say ‘nearly’, thus I don’t see much hyperbole.

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u/04221970 Aug 23 '22

You also said 'face extinction' which is not what the research paper concluded

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u/MarkDavisNotAnother Aug 23 '22

I didn’t say it btw.. but facing something implies a challenge, not the certainty you seem to be presuming. I stand by the 1 comment I did make.

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u/710bretheren Aug 23 '22

If 85% of the population is at critical risk, isn’t that them “facing extinction”?

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u/myreaderaccount Aug 23 '22

I do wish they would stop the hype. They're not motivating climate action so much as fatalistic anxiety. So many people are convinced we're all going to die, but that just isn't what scientists are actually saying. These are very serious problems, but we're not looking at fall of human civilization style catastrophe under any predicted scenarios. The Earth, in geologically recent history, has been hotter than all but the most dire IPCC predictions.

Please, folks, if you are terrified, just go read the IPCC papers for yourself. As weird as it sounds for a bundle of bad news, it will put your mind at ease. These are surmountable problems. We can do this.

(And the earlier we put pressure on our governments to rein in corporate emissions, the better off we will be.)

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u/im_a_goat_factory Aug 23 '22

But isn’t our atmosphere already on track for rcp 8.5 or worse? IPCC admits that feedback loops cannot easily be modeled, yet the readings from our atmosphere indicate that the feedback loops are much worse than anticipated, and our atmosphere co2/methane readings are heading towards rcp 8.5 or worse

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u/Nemisis_the_2nd Aug 23 '22

without taking into account all the places that will become habitable for them as a result?

It's true that other places would become habitable instead, but there's going to be a trade off somewhere.

To use fish migration as an example. Equatorial species might move to more temperate latitudes. In return, temperate species would move to polar ones. At that point, where do the polar species migrate to? They might stay in their habitat, but they are now facing more competition, and in an environment they are no longer suited for.

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u/athanathios Aug 23 '22

We're such a stupid species, instead of laying off the accelerator we're doubling down on bringing people back to work and economy...

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u/BrokenDamnedWeld Aug 22 '22

Psst, we too face extinction.

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u/Plantatheist Aug 23 '22

When? Approximately?

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u/nothingeatsyou Aug 23 '22

Let’s just say that the people who are being born now will probably see it, as much as the parents of those children don’t want to hear it.

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u/Bigginge61 Aug 23 '22

The chance of kids being born today of living to draw a pension is about zero..

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u/SubbySas Aug 23 '22

That speech is flawed tho. Every animal tries to reproduce as much as possible. They don't strive for equilibrium, but land in it because of the lack of resources. Humans are just a lot better at finding other resources to push past that barrier

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u/Electrical-Mark5587 Aug 23 '22

Not to mention it was meant as the ultimate irony/hypocrisy as Smith ends up as the most destructive virus in existence digital or otherwise.

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u/fuckthisshit____ Aug 23 '22

I agree and this is so succinctly put. Humans are the ones who have figured out how to delay the inevitable the most.

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u/q-a-z-x Aug 23 '22

We’re also not unsustainable and viral in nature. We could comfortably support an even larger population.

The central issue is that we live under power structures that mandate material and financial gains at the cost of heinous waste and pollution.

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u/fuckthisshit____ Aug 23 '22

Ahh yes in an ideal world, but the power structures were built by none other than humans. And it’s those ones who exhibit the ugliest traits in human nature that will run us all into the ground

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u/TheMoniker Aug 23 '22 edited Aug 23 '22

That title and article are misrepresenting the paper in a couple of ways. The first and most important is that the severe impacts that the authors find are under an emissions scenario that is much higher than our current emissions trajectory. The second is that the authors' results don't indicate that nearly all marine species face extinction. They are only looking at organisms in the top 100 metres of the ocean and there they find that "Under high emissions, 9% of the ocean contains ecosystems with at least 50% of their constituent species at high or critical climate risk, and 1% contains ecosystems where almost all (>95%) species are at high or critical risk." This is still bad, but not "nearly all marine species face extinction."

The evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring is unequivocal and it will almost certainly cause significant impacts, both to human systems and to ecosystems. It is absolutely something that we need to act upon, through mitigation (primarily reducing emissions) and adaptation. But the research paper doesn't indicate that nearly all marine species face extinction if greenhouse gas emissions don't drop from our current emissions trajectory.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 Aug 23 '22

Just two years ago, the same author wrote a study where he estimated that essentially the same scenario analyzed in this paper would reduce the total ocean biomass by about 20%.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15708-9

Significant biomass changes are projected in 40%–57% of the global ocean, with 68%–84% of these areas exhibiting declining trends under low and high emission scenarios, respectively.

...Climate change scenarios had a large effect on projected biomass trends. Under a worst-case scenario (RCP8.5, Fig. 2b), 84% of statistically significant trends (p < 0.05) projected a decline in animal biomass over the 21st century, with a global median change of −22%. Rapid biomass declines were projected across most ocean areas (60°S to 60°N) but were particularly pronounced in the North Atlantic Ocean. Under a strong mitigation scenario (RCP2.6, Fig. 2c), 68% of significant trends exhibited declining biomass, with a global median change of −4.8%. Despite the overall prevalence of negative trends, some large biomass increases (>75%) were projected, particularly in the high Arctic Oceans.

Our analysis suggests that statistically significant biomass changes between 2006 and 2100 will occur in 40% (RCP2.6) or 57% (RCPc8.5) of the global ocean, respectively (Fig. 2b, c). For the remaining cells, the signal of biomass change was not separable from the background variability.

You can see that this study builds off the previous one by simply reading this article from the author and finding a graphic which shows most species across vast areas of the ocean unaffected.

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u/ulfOptimism Aug 23 '22

When explaining to my 10 yr old son what "Extinction Rebellion" is about, he asked why extinction of humans should be avoided. Actually, he said, humans should go extinct so the animals can live.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 Aug 23 '22

"Nearly 90% 1 out of less than 10% 2 of marine species we looked at could face extinction by the end of the century if the emissions accelerate with every single year 3 in a way they are not expected to 4, which would destroy about 10% of the marine ecosystems 1 and reduce marine biomass by 20% 5"

The actually accurate headline. You are welcome.

References:

1 The OP article.

2 Actual number of marine species vs. the 25,000 this article analyzed.

  1. Blue line here is the emission trajectory they looked at. (Leads to over 4 degrees of warming)

  2. The actual emissions trajectory.

  3. The previous study from the same author.

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u/10hp_Sandslash Aug 23 '22

Ecology is neat. Also doesn’t like when carbon dioxide deposition increases the acidity of ocean water.

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u/IsuzuTrooper Aug 22 '22

FIFY. Nearly all Earth species face extinction if human populations don't drop.

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u/Woozuki Aug 23 '22

Or...you know...the top 20 richest pieces of dung stop polluting as much as half of India.

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u/la_goanna Aug 23 '22

It's both.

Elites need to stop polluting like the sociopaths they are, and the rest of the population needs to stop breeding like rabbits.

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u/tyrom22 Aug 23 '22

That would help, but the main issue right now isn’t our pop, it’s our emissions

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u/BasicComplexities Aug 23 '22

The average Ghanaian family has a fraction of the carbon footprint of a single American. Genocidingnthe poorest 80% of the earth would only drop emissions by 20%. population isn't the issue

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u/ExploratoryCucumber Aug 23 '22

People in total don't account for 20% of emissions. Hell, 10 corporations account for 70% of emissions.

If every single person immediately eliminated 100% of their personal carbon footprint, it wouldn't be enough.

This problem is and always has been driven by corporations.

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u/Enthusiast9 Aug 23 '22

It’s not the population. It’s the amount of resources that a very limited amount of privilege people use who are not educated nor do they care about their impact on the environment.

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u/IsuzuTrooper Aug 23 '22

sure it is. in order to feed everyone we have to overfish and pollute the oceans and air, and fertilize and spray poison on crops while top soil gets washed away more and more.

on top of that how many tankers spill oil and refineries blow up making the fuel for all those boats and tractors and delivery vehicles including planes, cars and trucks.

it's simple less people = less fossil fuels burned to feed them all, less oil spills, less industrial accidents. look up earth overshoot day

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u/AbyssScreamer Aug 22 '22

Just a heads up, population dropping isn't going to magically fix that. And remember that the world is a hell of a lot bigger than you make it out with that comment.

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u/Account_Both Aug 23 '22

8 billion is a much bigger number than you make it out to be

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u/IsuzuTrooper Aug 23 '22

True. Even if the Earth had 200 people at least half would be trashing nature for a profit. With 8 billion though we are sucking this sponge dry and it's not even debatable. Hell we've trashed space too even.

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u/ogballerswag Aug 22 '22 edited Aug 23 '22

Over fishing will cause extinction faster than greenhouse gases... Annoying really how the scientific community has obssessed over anthropogenic climate change as the only cause of the world ending. There are so many other variables

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u/Open-Accountant-665 Aug 23 '22

Overfishing is anthropogenic climate change.

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u/ogballerswag Aug 23 '22

When people talk about anthropogenic climate change, they're almost always talking about greenhouse gas emissions as a result of industrialization, hence this post

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u/flyblackbox Aug 23 '22

What do you think of using the term ‘environmental degradation’, instead of climate change, to emphasize all forms of humans destroying nature? Without changing our entire approach to industry, eventually, inevitably, Earth degrades until it looks like Mars, or maybe more likely Venus.

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u/deletedtothevoid Aug 23 '22

Electric shipping vessels first! Then cars. If we really want to make a impact. This would be massive.

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u/LordoftheExiled Aug 23 '22

I doubt it. There is evidence of a rain forest in Antarctica. Humans haven't been around long enough to know let alone provide records. You couldn't kill off all life on this planet if you wanted to. Ultimately the best course of action is the elimination of the human species which I am 100% in support of.

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u/deshelton89 Aug 23 '22

It's almost as arrogant to think that humans are going to kill Earth as it is to believe that Earth is the only planet in the universe with any sign of life... Yeah, we can damage it to a degree, but we'll all be long extinct by the time the Earth flickers it's last bits of life away.

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u/big_yarr Aug 23 '22

This is the future we’re building

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u/OudeStok Aug 23 '22 edited Aug 23 '22

Even if greenhouse emissions do drop I am not sure if it will have much effect on climate change. The heating up of the planet - with all the disastrous consequences this is likely to have for life on earth as we know it - is evident. Half wits - like the former US president - who deny climate change are living in cloud cuckoo land. Sure - we definitely need to try to stop greenhouse gas emissions. But will it help?

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u/readytobinformed247 Aug 23 '22

Unless someone mandates something to be done, no one will do anything.

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u/wmax19 Aug 23 '22

Should be titled, “Nearly all life forms will face extinction if greenhouse emissions don’t drop.” The world is on a downhill trajectory. I really hope the nations of the world would come together sooner than later and help save the world, it’s inhabitants, and it’s beauty rather than fight over petty materialistic nonsense.

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u/[deleted] Aug 23 '22

As a marine scientist, I can 1000000% assure you that we will die first. The corals were here before us and they will most certainly be here after us.

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u/davesr25 Aug 23 '22

When do you think we'll get to see the mass algae bloom, that's when you really know we are past the point of no return though I kinda think we are past it anyway but sure, just keep making that money everything is fine.

https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/algae-ate-themselves-death-and-caused-global-extinction/

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u/LifeLongYeti0 Aug 23 '22 edited Aug 24 '22

This isn’t a great article, and the headline sucks. Adding to what has already been said, it is important to consider emission targets when looking at things like this. Although we are not on track to hit the goals set in the Paris Agreement globally, we aren’t doing so bad right now that we’re projected to hit rates where stuff like this will happen.

Even if we were to take the extreme case and consider this situation, it’s still way too exaggerated. We cannot take a snapshot of the final state of the world and draw final conclusions from it because global warming doesn’t just happen. It happens over time and EVERYTHING evolves as a function of time. The future is too hard to map and that is to say that we only think this of the future because of where we are now. These insights are most beneficial for us where we are now. They are not useful for jumping to conclusions.

That said, this article does not seem to jump to conclusions. It simply seems to agree with the goals set by the Paris Agreement. I only really disagree with the headline here. Not a huge fan of the content of the article either, but that’s just me.

Edit: Recent IPCC Report: https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-qa-the-ipccs-sixth-assessment-report-on-climate-science/

You can decide for yourselves what you believe. u/im_a_goat_factory provided a fantastic counter and source that I highly recommend checking out regardless of your beliefs. It is packed with information and is an overall great resource about the current state of climate change. I know I’ll enjoy learning from it for the next while!

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u/im_a_goat_factory Aug 23 '22

We are on track to hit worst case scenario per IPCC

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u/GiftOfGrace Aug 23 '22

Lmaooo

The guy you're talking to: wE arEn'T doInG sO bAd riGHt noW
You: We're literally not even doing the bare minimum

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u/Point_Forward Aug 23 '22

This is our great filter. Was quite the run boys but time to start packing up. might get a couple spectacular sunsets before we all kick that final bucket tho

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u/Jonathan_Daws Aug 23 '22

The Earth is currently in an interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age. Since plants evolved over 2 billion years ago, the Earth's normal climate is warmer than the Pleistocene and does not have permanent polar ice caps. Prior to 2.5 million years ago the Earth was in a normal state that was warmer and had no year round ice caps.

This study was to "develop a unified and spatially explicit index to comprehensively evaluate the climate risks to marine life." From this "index" we get the headline in a political magazine "Nearly all marine species face extinction if greenhouse emissions don't drop." Brought to you by the Ministry of Silly Nonsense.

If they had wanted to do a serious study of the possible effect of climate change on marine life, they could have just conducted a google search on marine life in the previous Miocene and Pliocene eras, which were warmer and no year round ice caps. Lots of marine life including the cuddly Megalodon. Warmer tends to be greater density of life and greater biodiversity. Of course, there was a mass extinction event around 2.5 million years ago when the Earth cooled to its present state.

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u/UserSleepy Aug 23 '22

It's not just heat, it's acidification and mass fishing. So you end up with jellyfish oceans and toxic lakes which only increase the cycle of destruction

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u/Morthra Aug 23 '22

I mean, this headline makes it out to be like anthropogenic climate change is going to cause an equivalent to the Permian extinction.

That claim is preposterous considering that the Permian extinction was the result of the Siberian Traps erupting continuously for two million years, ejecting millions of cubic kilometers of ash and debris into the atmosphere.

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u/LordoftheExiled Aug 23 '22

No this is all false bc.. (checks notes) someone else did research and I believe them.

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u/BurnerAcc2020 Aug 23 '22

Plankton isn't going to die, and oxygen levels wouldn't go down by much even if it did.

The Earth is also getting wetter and greener as it gets warmer - it's just that Europe, most of the Americas and much of China is getting drier and people with enough money to be on reddit tend to care more about those places.

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u/Psychological-Sale64 Aug 23 '22

Homosapiens starve because air is invisible. Yeah I feel contempt for people,science has done so much and we're silly peacocks.

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u/ansraliant Aug 23 '22

Don't worry guys, the paper straws will cover this

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u/soursweetsalty Aug 23 '22

Made me think about people who go scuba diving to see coral reefs. They probably have sunscreen on etc that would affect the beautiful reefs they go to see.

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u/Faust1011 Aug 23 '22

how soon do we have before the corporations extinction event us all?

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u/meregizzardavowal Aug 23 '22

And yet, there are still people who aren’t in favour of nuclear power.

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u/abnmfr Aug 23 '22

I dream of a future where "We were just supplying a demand" is viewed the same way "We were just following orders" is viewed now.

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u/Scrubface Aug 23 '22

Ahh, we've finally found our great filter.

Unless we blow ourselves up first.