Ocean risks detailed
A new report urges swift action to save oceans from the climate crisis.
In a stark wake-up call, the Climate Council's inaugural oceans report, ‘Code Blue: Our Oceans in Crisis’, reveals that the world's oceans are under severe threat due to climate change.
The health of oceans and human survival are deeply intertwined, as the ocean and the atmosphere jointly shape Earth's climate. The consequences of climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, are profoundly impacting oceans, affecting communities worldwide.
Oceans are absorbing an alarming 93 per cent of excess heat generated by human-induced global warming.
The rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, and the ocean currently absorbs heat equivalent to five Hiroshima bomb explosions every second.
This massive heat absorption, while temporarily hiding the extent of human interference in the climate, is starting to unravel, with serious repercussions.
Alarming changes in the oceans are outpacing scientific predictions, according to 60 per cent of surveyed ocean and climate scientists.
These changes include faster-than-expected increases in ocean surface temperatures and the loss of Antarctic sea ice, causing extreme concern among experts.
The incidence of marine heatwaves has doubled since the 1980s, with devastating effects on coral reefs, kelp forests, and marine species.
Australia, in particular, has suffered mass species deaths and significant losses in its giant kelp forests due to ocean warming.
The experts say urgent action is needed to prevent parts of the ocean from becoming permanently overheated.
Rising sea levels and ocean acidification are threatening coastal communities across Australia and the Pacific, eroding coastlines and causing sea level rise, which is expected to accelerate.
The report underscores the necessity of swiftly phasing out fossil fuels to combat ocean warming and acidification.
To limit warming to 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic tipping points, Australia must reduce emissions by 75 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2035.
Additionally, the experts say environmental laws need reform to account for the climate impacts of new projects.
The report stresses the need for expanded marine protected areas and the restoration of blue carbon ecosystems, highlighting the significance of supporting communities adapting to ocean changes, with a particular focus on First Nations stewardship and leadership.
The report is accessible in PDF form, here.