To stop climate change, save marine life: Eco forum

May 27, 2022

SEOUL – The climate crisis is an ocean crisis, Sylvia Earle, marine biologist and resident explorer at National Geographic, said at a forum Thursday in Seoul.

“It took time for climatologists to recognize the inextricable link between the atmosphere and the ocean, between the climate and the ocean, between the Earth’s living systems and the climate. We now know that the climate crisis is an ocean crisis,” she said.

Earle, who has spent “thousands of hours” over five decades of his career in underwater labs and deep-diving submarines, said he’s witnessed first-hand the human toll on the oceans.

“I was shocked and saddened by the collapse of once healthy and vibrant systems.”

Earle said protecting the oceans was key to tackling climate change.

Safeguarding and restoring forests at sea – mangroves, marshes, seagrass beds, grasslands – contributes to stabilizing the climate.

“Phytoplankton microforests sequester carbon, generate food and release oxygen to the atmosphere and ocean,” she said.

“The most abundant and diverse life forms on earth are found in zooplankton which feed on the tiny photosynthesizers and in turn become food for smaller fish, which are then eaten by larger fish.”

Maintaining the safety of the food chain is essential to the continuation of the carbon cycle.

“Taking fish and other marine animals out of the ocean breaks bonds and releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, like clear-cutting forests or burning trees,” he said. she declared.

The fishing industry has disrupted the natural flow of ocean wildlife globally.

“It’s not about fishermen catching a few fish for their families and communities. This is industrial culling of wild animals on a scale and at a speed since the 1970s that far exceeds the salvage capacity of the animals,” she said.

“The International Monetary Fund commissioned a study in 2020 and found that the carbon value of whales was worth a trillion dollars when it comes to climate stability.”

The good news is that the protection worked.

“Today there are more whales and sea turtles than when I was a kid because nations agreed to stop commercially killing them in 1986,” she said. “If more fish and other ocean wildlife stayed in the sea, more carbon would be held in the ocean, leaving less of a contribution to the atmosphere.”

Around 15% of the world’s land and 3% of the oceans are currently protected, and some 70 countries have pledged to protect at least 30% of their land and 30% of the oceans by 2030.

“If the ocean is in trouble, so are we. It is and we are. Taking care of the ocean is taking care of the future of all of us,” she said.

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