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Marine protected areas will not protect the seas from the threat of climate change – quartz



Over the last 10 years, people have suddenly realized the great damage people have done to the oceans. Prior to 2008, there were only four major Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the world. Today, there are more than 30. In most of these reserves, mining or oil exploration is not allowed and fishing is severely restricted. The hope is that these areas will become a sanctuary for marine life to recover and maybe even thrive.

  Marine protected areas_coloured
The marine protected areas of the world. (MPAtlas)

The problem is that although MPAs will help in the short term, they will not save the seas from the threat of climate change, according to a new study in the Nature Climate Change. The study examined expected emissions under two globally accepted scenarios: "business as usual", where temperatures rise by 8 ° C by the end of the century, and another, where the rise to only 4,5 ° C by 2100 In scenarios, the oceans experience radical changes that are probably too much for marine organisms to adapt to, despite the threat posed by human fishing or oil exploration.

These changes will include increased storm intensity, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and warming including water, unpredictable buoyancy of ocean nutrients and oxygen loss. It's as if there's flood in the basement, fire in the attic, toxic gas in the bathroom and a sniper in the house … but much worse.

You just have to look at what happens to the Great Barrier Reef, a UN World Heritage Site, and the oldest MPA (named as the latter in 1975). In recent years, the reef has suffered a series of bleaching events that have led to massive coral extinctions. Last month, the Australian government announced a $ 400 million plan to rescue coral, but scientists believe the attempt is too little, too late.

A 2016 study found that if the goal is to increase biodiversity and restore fisheries, they must cover up to 30% of the oceans, today it is 4%. The authors of the new study support the creation of larger MPAs, but warn that these safeguards will be in vain unless we tackle the systemic problem of climate change.


Continue reading: Massive coral deaths are a sign of far worse things to come

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