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Study predicts mass marine life extinction if warming continues


Under “business as usual” warming, marine ecosystems planetwide could experience a mass extinction comparable to that of the end-Permian extinction, known as the “Great Dying”

By the year 2300, life in the oceans faces a mass die-off rivaling the great extinctions of Earth’s deep past if humanity fails to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a study said Thursday.

But limiting planetary warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will stave off such a catastrophe, said the paper’s authors, Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch, both affiliated with the University of Washington and Princeton University.

The results were alarming: under “business as usual” warming, marine ecosystems planetwide could experience a mass extinction comparable to that of the end-Permian extinction, known as the “Great Dying.”

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While the tropical oceans would lose the most species, many from these areas would migrate to higher latitudes in order to survive.

Limiting warming to 2C, the upper limit of goal set by the Paris agreement, “would cut the severity of extinctions by >70%, avoiding a marine mass extinction,” the paper said.

“Because marine extinctions have not progressed as far as those on land, society has time to turn the tide in favor of ocean life,” wrote scientists Malin Pinsky and Alexa Fredston in an accompanying commentary.

la/ia/st

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