Costs of damage to oceans could bankrupt most nations

A new study says the cost of damaging our oceans could run up to $2 trillion. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are severely compounding each other and shouldn’t be tackled individually, the report warns.

Pollution, overfishing and climate change are just some of the environmental pressures that are amplifying each other more than previously assumed, according to a new study of the world’s oceans by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

Other stresses that the study focuses on include acidification, due to a buildup of carbon in the oceans, and hypoxia, which happens when fertilizer runoff feeds giant algae blooms at sea that deplete oxygen and create ‘dead zones.’

Over fishing weakens an ecosystem against the effects of climate change. Coral is a good example. With their proximity to shore, they frequently bear the brunt of chemicals, acidification and human interference all at once.

Following in the recent footsteps of efforts to put a cost on terrestrial extinctions, the SEI’s study attempts to calculate the economic burden of degrading the world’s oceans this century.

It compares the costs of doing nothing on climate change with the costs of limiting warming to an extra 2.2 degrees Celsius, close to the 2-degree goal of international climate negotiations.

The cost of the “business-as-usual” scenario is projected to be $1.98 trillion (1.5 trillion euros) by 2100. Under the alternative scenario, in which the world dramatically reduces its emissions, almost $1.4 trillion of those damages are avoided.

The pricing part of the study took into account five categories of lost ocean value: fisheries, tourism, sea-level rise, storms and ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon. But there are other crucial benefits that oceans provide that are impossible to put a price tag on.



Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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