Oceans Face Mass Extinctions, New Report Warns

BY Hari Sreenivasan  June 22, 2011 at 1:23 PM EST

When 27 marine experts from a half-dozen countries met in England this April for a workshop on the state of the oceans, they knew the news would not be good.

But seeing the data on overfishing, acidification, chemical pollution, temperature increases, coral reef extinction and climate change, and — most importantly — seeing all the data together gave even the most sober academic among them a cause for concern.

In a new report, the group finds that human impact is changing the ocean in ways faster than predicted, and not for the better. There is significant concern that sensitive ecosystems may suffer devastating consequences if things don’t change quickly and the scientists are ringing an alarm.

We talked with one of the participants in the workshop and author of the upcoming “State of the Oceans” report, Professor Chris Reid from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science & University of Plymouth:

When scientists use phrases like “mass extinction” and “conditions not seen in 55 million years,” it is likely to make headlines. For an excellent roundup of coverage, see Charlie Petit’s Knight Science Journalism Tracker for the raft of State of the Ocean stories. Click here to see a summary of findings, here to see a press release and here to see a summary, including several small YouTube clips from some of the scientists who attended the workshop that produced the findings.

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