Human impact on the oceans is growing — and climate change is the biggest culprit

The Washington Post reports: The world’s oceans have suffered a lot at the hands of humans — ask any marine conservationist. Unsustainable fishing, pollution and the effects of climate change are just a few of the issues that worry scientists and environmentalists.

While we have a good idea of which activities are causing harm to the ocean, scientists have been less clear on which ones are the most damaging and which regions of the ocean are getting the worst of it. Now, new research has allowed scientists to map the impacts of 19 different types of human activity that have harmed the ocean over a span of five years. The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers used global-scale data to map the cumulative impacts of human activities between 2008 and 2013, pinpointing which areas are under increasing stress, which areas are experiencing a decrease and which human activities are having the biggest impacts in which areas. They found that nearly two-thirds of the ocean in experiencing an increase in these man-made impacts — and climate change is the worst of all, driving the majority of the changes the researchers observed. [Continue reading…]

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