The world’s coral reef cover has halved since the 1950s, ravaged by global heating, overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction, a trend that is projected to continue as the planet continues to heat in the 21st century.
Diversity of species on reefs has dropped by more than 60% and total reef cover had approximately halved.
“Marine heatwaves are rapidly intensifying, leading to more frequent and severe bleaching events, including on some of the world’s most isolated and pristine coral reefs”.
“Over the last few years, Caribbean reefs have been clobbered by hurricanes and new diseases, both linked to ocean warming. Frankly, the global picture for coral reefs is pretty grim”.
The world’s oceans absorbed more than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and average water temperatures have continued to rise as the planet heats.
260 Spanish troops are assisting firefighters battling a raging blaze that has emptied out villages and burned through forestland for days.
“We have talked for a long time about the consequences of abandoning the environment, or climate change. Today, we are living them,” Juan Sánchez, director of the operations center at Andalusia’s forest–fire agency, told reporters.
Efforts to halt decline of population & diversity of animals & plants have largely failed.
28% of the 138,000 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are now at risk of extinction, including 37% of sharks & rays.
In 2019 the UN’s biodiversity experts warned that a million species are on the brink of extinction—raising the spectre that the planet is on the verge of its sixth mass extinction event in 500 million years.
The pollution, emissions and clean-up costs of plastic produced in 2019 alone exceeded the annual GDP of India.
It estimated that unless there is concerted international action, this cost will double by 2040.
Since the 1950s, roughly 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced with around 60% of that tossed into landfills or the natural environment.
The debris is estimated to cause the deaths of more than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.
“Tragically, the plastic pollution crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, but the commitment to tackle it has reached an unprecedented level,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
France’s minister in charge of biodiversity, Berangere Abba, said if the world failed to act there would be “more plastic in the oceans than fish” by 2050.
Climate change-induced warming in the Gulf of Maine has resulted in the population of the North Atlantic right whale to plummet, leaving the species critically endangered.
Right whales have long been known for foraging fatty crustaceans in the Gulf of Maine. But in the past decade the water there has been warming and the whale’s main food source, which thrives in cold water, has deteriorated.
The result was that the species now travels north-east to the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada to forage for food, and there is a major decline in the number of female whales reproducing.
“When they can’t build those thick layers of blubber, they’re not able to successfully get pregnant, carry the pregnancy and nurse the calf”
In the past decade, the population has decreased by about 26%, leaving only 356 North Atlantic right whales on Earth.
If climate change continues at its current rate, more than 98% of emperor penguin colonies are expected to become quasi-extinct by the turn of the century. Scientists’ near-term predictions were equally grim: they estimated at least two-thirds of colonies would be quasi-extinct by 2050.
An emperor penguin colony in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea was effectively wiped out in 2016 because of record-low sea ice and early ice breakup. More than 10,000 chicks are thought to have drowned when the sea ice broke up before they were ready to swim.
Populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970, and large fish – those weighing more than 30kg – have been all but wiped out in most rivers. The global population of megafish down by 94%, and 16 freshwater fish species were declared extinct last year.