Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

• Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
• The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
• If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.

David Wallace-Wells is the author of "The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming" (https://amzn.to/2Of5N3y). Wallace-Wells is a national fellow at the New America foundation and a columnist and deputy editor at New York magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.

TRANSCRIPT

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS: I think there's basically no chance that coral reefs survive another generation. I think that we're looking at the total extinction of those biospheres by 2050 or so. There are some scientists who think there's some hope, and there have been some coral reefs that have recovered. But the impacts are so fast and so catastrophic, and we're so far from really changing course on carbon, it's hard for me to imagine that they endure, which means that the trips that we're now taking now to view those, we'll be taking really on the brink of mass extinctions.

And it's important to keep in mind that globally, we are living already through mass extinction. The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. There have been studies that say that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades. Animals are dying globally at rates never before seen in planetary history, and we are living through that and imposing those costs on the planet ourselves. The ocean is a particularly vulnerable system. It's not just the coral reefs. It's also the circulation patterns. It's the fish populations. And it happens we're also polluting the oceans with enormous amounts of plastic, which are really damaging. I think those people who really love the oceans should be quite terrified...

Read the full transcript at https://bigthink.com/videos/climate-change-ocean

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