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Scientists Warn That Climate Change, Fertilizers, and Sewage Could Trigger Mass Extinction in Oceans

Source: Independent/Ian Johnston - August 10, 2017 in Politics

Scientists Warn That Climate Change, Fertilizers, and Sewage Could Trigger Mass Extinction in Oceans
Photo: EsotericSapience/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The ocean is slowly being suffocated with levels of oxygen falling at a similar rate to 94 million years ago when there was a mass extinction of marine life, scientists have warned.

While that event was caused naturally, humans are responsible for several different factors driving the increase in “dead zones” in our seas.

One is that sewage and fertilisers running off farmers fields are causing massive blooms of algae that die and then decompose in a process that consumes oxygen. This kills most marine life or forces mobile animals such as fish to flee.

One of the world’s biggest “biological deserts” is in the northern Gulf of Mexico, centred on the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Baltic Sea is also severely affected.

Another factor driving the process is that global warming is gradually increasing the amount of erosion of the land, adding extra nutrients to the sea. However this process is expected to take tens of thousands of years.

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