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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Warming threat to earth's seas, marine life endangers mankind: study

By Lucie Peytermann Yahoo News 9 Nov 06
full article

NAIROBI (AFP) - Urgent and resolute measures must be taken to arrest rising global temperatures that increasingly threaten the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and human lives, scientists have warned.

In a study released on the sidelines of a key UN climate conference in the Kenyan capital on Thursday, they said climatic changes had sparked rapid rises in sea levels, temperatures and acidity that pose severe dangers to humanity.

In a study titled "The Future Oceans--Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour," Rahmstorf and eight other scientists warned that the world is witnessing, on a global scale, problems similar to the acid rain phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s.

Unlike their terrestrial counterparts, marine ecosystems are far more sensitive to climatic changes that may, for instance, spark shifts in sealife populations, alter food webs and species composition, it said.

"Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms." Fish stocks and the world's coral reefs could also be hit while acidification risks "fundamentally altering" the food chain, he said

Most of the world's reefs -- habitats for fish on which humans depend -- may be destroyed within the next 30 to 50 years because many corals cannot survive in higher water temperatures, it added. Thus, the survival of the fisheries sector is threatened with nefarious economic ramifications, it said.

"There is need to link nature conservation with coastal protection," said the study.

Nations must make plans to help tens of millions of "sea level refugees" if climate change continues to ravage the world's oceans, German researchers said on Thursday.

Waters are rising and warming, increasing the destructive power of storms, they said, and seas are becoming more acidic, threatening to throw entire food chains into chaos.

Many of the world's biggest cities, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, are by the coast. Some rich nations might be able to build ever higher dikes, such as in the Netherlands, but poor nations were destined to be swamped.

The low-lying Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has already agreed a deal for New Zealand to take about half its 10,000 people to work in agriculture if it becomes swamped by rising sea levels.

And Rahmstorf also warned that further temperature increases risk touching off stronger hurricanes in the future. "If global warming continues, we will see stronger hurricanes in the future,"