- Warming oceans are choking off marine
life at an alarming pace and shrinking food supplies for people and other
creatures dependent on the seas, according to a report by two environmental
- The report, released by the Washington-based
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Marine Conservation Biology Institute
in Redmond, Washington, said global warming was starving several species,
including Pacific salmon, and melting polar ice that supports a range of
mammals and birds.
- "Warmer temperatures are raising
the biological cost of living for marine species," said Elliot Norse,
president of the biology institute.
- The groups blamed emissions of carbon
dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases, produced primarily in the
United States and other industrial countries that burn fossil fuels for
- By thickening the Earth's atmosphere
and trapping heat at the surface, greenhouse gases have helped melt vast
tracts of polar ice, raised water temperatures and forced some species
to migrate to colder climates, the report said.
- "These disturbing results demonstrate
that global warming is coming home to roost," said Adam Markham, director
of WWF's climate programme.
- "The story will only get worse unless
governments and business take the steps to stop it."
- Ocean temperatures have risen more than
one degree Celsius in some places over the past 60 years and will rise
at least another couple of degrees over the next century if emissions continue
to grow at current rates.
- Global warming has coincided with an
increased incidence of the El Nino phenomenon, in which warm water concentrated
in the eastern Pacific creates volatile weather patterns, it said.
- Centuries ago El Nino occurred every
two to 15 years, but the pattern was repeated five times between 1990 and
1997 and record high global average temperatures were recorded in 1997
and 1998, the report said.
- The oceanic heat has devastated coral
reefs and ice shelves that house species including algae, plankton and
crustaceans, cutting the food supply to larger animals including whales,
penguins and sea lions, it said.
- Rising sea levels also threaten to ruin
coastal wetlands and other habitats that support marine animals and commercial
fisheries, the report concluded.
- Ute Collier, climate campaigner for the
conservation group the World Wide Fund for Nature-UK said a report prepared
by the group showing a similar trend should "set alarm bells ringing
in capitals throughout the world".