It seems like every week there is more bad news coming out of the oceans. Whether it’s the climate caused migrations of entire populations or the possible endangerment of the Pacific Coast’s great white sharks, there is a growing consensus that the health of our oceans is in real danger.

But a new report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean warns that that danger is closer than many of us realize. After noting that, “the ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth, supports us and maintains our world in a habitable condition,” it lists the several visible signs of the ocean’s problems.

First, warming and acidification of the oceans resulting from human activities are causing increased hypoxia, meaning there isn’t enough oxygen in the oceans. Second, as bad as we think things are down there, things are getting worse – and much faster than we predicted.  The list goes on. “The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood,” the report warns and “timelines for action are shrinking.”  With all of these stresses, “the extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing.”

The report calls on an immediate reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, reductions in fishing, improved sewage treatment, and action by the United Nations, among other actions to slow our oceans’ demise.

Wondering what you can do to help? Try only eating fish caught sustainably, or even – dare I say it – not eating fish at all.

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