What Will Happen if We Don’t Save The Ocean

Our oceans have the power to either enhance or reduce our quality of life.

We’ve taken them for granted, however, and we need to work hard on ocean preservation before it’s too late.

Is it true that oceans are the lungs of the planet?

Yes, because of ocean ecosystems such as reefs store carbon. This gets released into the water when those ecosystems die off. This is alarming if you think that up to 80 percent of the air we breathe comes from the ocean, as Business Insider reports.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of destruction that can occur, both to marine life and ourselves if we don’t partake in ocean preservation right now.

What’s the future of our oceans if we don’t improve things? Let’s take a look.

The Ocean Crisis Is Already Happening

Garbage From Ocean

While we think we have time to save the oceans, the harsh reality is that the destruction is already happening.

This can be seen in various ways, such as the following. 

  • Plastic pollution. There’s an alarming amount of plastic debris in the ocean – between 10 and 20 million metric tonnes of it that are polluting and destroying the ocean’s ecosystems. In the future, we can expect that there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish and this is especially alarming if you consider that plastic kills over 100 million marine animals every year and this includes fish and birds, as The Asean Post reports.
  • Increased water temperatures. The oceans are getting hotter due to climate change, and it’s making them become acidic. This has a direct effect on ocean ecosystems and it’s also changing the oceans’ currents. A higher level of acidity in the oceans means that coral can’t grow and crustaceans can’t form shells. This is important for them to protect themselves against disease and predators.
  • Increased risk of flooding. In the future, we can expect that the oceans will become more dangerous and coastal flooding could wipe out cities.
  • The presence of dead zones. The oceans of the world have what is known as dead zones. These are areas in the ocean that contain little oxygen and therefore not much can survive in them. Most alarmingly, these are permanent and are only set to increase with time.

How The Oceans Will Look In The Next 5 Years

Man In Boat Floating Through Ocean Garbage

We’re currently in a very crucial time when it comes to ocean preservation because we’re already dealing with various negative effects that climate change is having on our oceans.

These are expected to get much worse, and that’s large because of the increased temperature of oceans.

  • By 2024, we can expect to see an increase in water temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius. While that might not seem like a lot, it’s almost two degrees, which would result in rivers and mountain glaciers starting to disappear, as Sky reports. In addition, there’ll be a greater occurrence of landslides due to the permafrost that holds mountainous regions together will melt.
  • When it comes to the oceans, the increase in temperature will result in severe thunderstorms, floods, and hurricanes becoming regular occurrences. Some small cities and towns won’t be safe to live in anymore due to the risk of this destruction. 
  • By 2024, marine life will be under severe threat from plastic pollution, which is set to triple by then, thus reaching an approximate amount of 15 trillion pieces of plastic. Plastic pollution affects various marine life, and up to 80 percent of species on a global scale who eat the tiny plastic, choke on it or suffocate because of it.

How The Oceans Will Look In 15 Years

High Waves

By 2034, the sea levels will continue to rise. Currently, the rate of sea-level rise has risen from 2.5ml every year in the ‘90s to 3.4mls per year, as NASA reports.

But, even earlier than 2034 we can expect our sea levels to have increased by between one to eight inches, as Climate Central reports, which will cause severe floods.

Some cities could have huge parts of them destroyed. Bangkok, for example, could wind up with 40 percent of it submerged, as The Bangkok Post reports.

Sea level rise is linked to warmer water. In fact, approximately 50 percent of the ocean level increase over the last 25 years has been caused by warmer oceans.

When water is warmer, it expands, as National Geographic explains.

By 2030, we can expect sea temperature to pass 1.5 degrees Celsius due to current greenhouse gas emissions, unless we become carbon neutral, as The Telegraph reports.

However, even at 1.5 degrees Celsius, there will be many changes.

Warmer oceans result in coral bleaching. By 2034, the oceans will be severely under stress when it comes to coral bleaching.

In fact, bleaching could occur every two years, which is problematic because it takes coral up to 10 years to develop.

Coral bleaching is a big issue because it can cause complete reef structures to collapse, harming marine life that depends on those structures and also making our oceans more volatile.

By 2030, half of the world’s oceans will already be suffering from climate change, which will have catastrophic consequences for marine life.

Hotter water temperatures mean that there’ll be less oxygen in the water, so many animals won’t be able to live in their current habitats and be forced to migrate.

This will cause the death of many species.

How The Oceans Will Look In 30-Odd Years (By 2050)

Melting Ice

We can expect to not have seafood any more by the year 2050.

As a study reported by National Geographic warns, the oceans’ biodiversity is being lost.

As things stand, 29 percent of our seafood species have already been eliminated.

If this continues, within the next 30-odd years we’ll have hardly any seafood to harvest.

Greenland’s summer will be ice-free by 2050.

The events we’re experiencing from increased sea levels will hit harder by the year 2050: we can expect those extreme sea-level events that happen once a century to happen at least once a year in many different regions of the world, The Guardian reports.

Shockingly, we might have sea levels rise by as much as 19 inches by 2050.

Some species of marine life will continue to migrate, while others will be killed off. A contributing factor to this is that there’ll be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

By 2050, there will be large numbers of marine animals that move from tropical seas to cooler waters in the Southern Ocean and Arctic, and this could lead to some marine species outside of the Arctic and Antarctic to become extinct, especially in tropical waters, as CNN reports.

Besides the change in climate that will undoubtedly affect us, living near the ocean could put as at greater risk of illness.

This is because warmer water spreads more pathogens, such as bacteria that carry cholera.

 How The Oceans Will Look In 80-Odd Years

Bleached Coral

It’s said that the global sea level will rise by between 20 and 38 inches by the year 2100.

This will put coastal cities and entire islands on the brink of destruction, as Vice reports.

Climate change is causing the oceans to get hotter, and even small temperature increases are resulting in the ocean’s coral becoming bleached, as we mentioned earlier.

A study in Science journal has found that almost every coral reef will be dying by 2100 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced.

There’ll be more storms. When water is warmer, it evaporates at a faster rate which means the ocean will be able to cause even more powerful storms.

This is obviously made worse by the rising sea levels. Within the next 80-odd years, we can expect that there’ll be more tropical storms and hurricanes.

Those dead zones mentioned earlier will get worse so that by the year 2100 it’s predicted that dead zones where nothing lives could cover one-fifth of the world’s oceans.

Some Of The Biggest Threats To The World’s Oceans

We are currently at a critical point in history.

We need to act fast to turn things around, and in order to do that, we have to deal with urgent problems that the ocean is facing.

There are actually five big threats to the ocean right now.

Overfishing

Catching Fish

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately 31 percent of fish stocks are overfished or fished to capacity.

This is dangerous because when too many fish are removed from the ocean it creates imbalances that can lead to the loss of other marine life, such as vulnerable coral and sea turtles.

To tackle the issue of overfishing, we can set up more marine protected areas and follow a catch shares strategy.

Catch shares refer to fishing management that allows fish numbers to replenish themselves while saving fishing communities from collapse.

How catch shares work is by using scientific information about fish health so that fishing communities know how many fish species they’re allowed to catch.

As Revolution reports, “Using catch shares makes seafood more valuable, meaning a higher, more predictable profit for fishermen while protecting the environment.”

Acidification

When carbon dioxide dissolves in the water, it increases the oceans’ acidity.

This drops PH levels and a decrease of just 0.1 PH can cause an increase of 150 percent in acidity.

This can cause marine life to stop reproducing and face extinction, as Deutsche Welle reports.

Since acidification is linked to climate change, dealing with climate change will help to reduce the oceans’ acidity.

Ocean pollution

Plastic Bottle In Ocean

There’s so much trash in the ocean that it has produced areas known as garbage patches.

These are massive, measuring between 700,000 and 15 million square kilometers, as Deutsche Welle reports.

This garbage pollutes the ocean, but it’s not the only pollutant.

UNESCO reports that over 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from the land.

It’s made up of millions of tons of plastic, untreated sewage, and agricultural runoff, as Leisure Pro reports. In addition, shipping contributes to the oceans’ pollution crisis.

The shipping industry causes over three percent of carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale, as Oceana reports.

To reduce ocean pollution, there are many things that need to be done. These include:

  • Making use of renewable energy that comes from the ocean. This could save up to 5.4 gigatonnes of CO2e (a measurement for carbon footprints) annually by the year 2050, as Ocean Panel reports. This would be similar to removing a billion cars from our roads! 
  • We need to commit to using less plastic, whether that refers to plastic bags or the use of microbeads in hygiene products so that we prevent our litter from entering the oceans.
  • We need to reduce waste. Currently, it’s not easy and perhaps not even possible to eliminate the oceans’ garbage patches because their plastic content might never disintegrate. In addition, smaller pieces of plastics, known as microplastics, are not easy to remove. That said, it’s of the utmost importance not to contribute to the problem. Since most of the debris in the ocean comes from items that humans have thrown away at some point, we need to consume and waste less to try to prevent this problem from getting worse.
  • To reduce shipping pollution, there are various strategies that could assist. These include renewable energy, such as wind power for propulsion, route optimization, and “slow steaming.” This is when ships work at slower speeds to decrease their fuel consumption, as The Conversation explains.
  • As for agricultural runoff that contaminates the oceans, we can preserve the water quality by improving agricultural practices. These include using the correct amount of fertilizers and at the right time during the year, as this can help to decrease the amount of fertilizer that reaches bodies of water.
  • Finally, to deal with untreated sewage, it’s of the utmost importance that sewage is correctly treated to prevent the killing of marine life and possible contamination of people. In addition, sometimes flooding can cause untreated sewage to enter water sources, which can have terrible consequences. In 2016, part of the River Trent got contaminated by sewage and it killed thousands of fish, as Environmental Technology reports. If this water had found its way into a human water source, it could have caused diseases to spread, such as diarrhea.

Lack Of Biodiversity Protection

Oceans Life

Only a small amount of the world’s oceans is protected and the world’s marine parks are usually not managed properly, as WWF reports.

We need to have better-managed Marine Protected Areas to preserve the biodiversity of the oceans, otherwise, the future of our marine life remains in the balance.

The Loss Of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are being lost at a fast rate – almost half of the Great Barrier Reef is already dead.

We are mainly to blame for the loss as coral reefs are threatened by rising sea temperatures, overfishing, sea pollution, and unsustainable tourism, as Boat International reports.

Coral reefs are more important than we realize – they can protect the coastline from the rising sea levels that can cause massive destruction on our shores and beyond.

When coral reefs die, this destroys marine life that depends on the coral reefs for protection, such as oysters and clams.

It also affects our economy, depriving fishermen of their income.

We can preserve coral reefs in various ways, such as by preventing marine debris that harms them as well as being responsible when snorkeling, such as by not touching coral reefs.

In addition, reducing our waste and carbon emissions will have the overall benefit of saving the oceans and reefs.

Related Questions

What countries pollute the oceans the most?

The top five countries that pollute the ocean the most with plastic waste include the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia, as reported by World Atlas.

How does the ocean clean our air?

Over the last few decades, approximately 30 percent of the carbon dioxide we’ve released into the atmosphere has found its way into the oceans, which has protected us from hotter temperatures, but it’s been bad for the oceans, as National Geographic reports.

The oceans need our help.

Conclusion

If we don’t start reducing climate change and preserving our oceans, we’ll suffer in the near future and so will all life forms.

In fact, some of the damage has already been done.

In this article, we’ve outlined how our oceans will change due to climate change within the next 80 years if we don’t do anything for ocean preservation.

We’ve also looked at the five main threats that our oceans currently face and what’s needed for us to turn things around.

If we want to save our oceans and ourselves, we’ll have to act now.

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