New study predicts mass marine life extinction if global warming continues

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Breaching orca or killer whale at sea near Canada, photo: Schaef1 via Canva

Ocean life will have disappeared by the year 2300 if humanity fails to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a study said Thursday.

Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will delay such a catastrophe, authors Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch said, both affiliated with the University of Washington and Princeton University.

Penn and Deutsch used ecophysiological modeling to see whether animals would survive with the predicted sea temperatures and depletion of oxygen levels. The results were frightening: under “business as usual” warming, marine ecosystems worldwide could experience a mass extinction.

Limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius “would cut the severity of extinctions by >70%, avoiding a marine mass extinction,” the study said.

“Because marine extinctions have not progressed as far as those on land, society has time to turn the tide in favor of ocean life,” scientists Malin Pinsky and Alexa Fredston said.

“Exactly where the future falls between the best-case and worst-case scenarios, will be determined by the choices that society makes not only about climate change, but also about habitat destruction, overfishing, and coastal pollution,” they added.

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