Oceans combat greenhouse gas emissions, pollution

PESHAWAR    -   Former Conservator of Forest KP Tauheedul Haq told APP on Sunday that oceans produce around 50 percent of the world’s oxygen and are home to marine species as well as migratory birds such as sharks, turtles, and cranes. “Being a key source for oxygen production, biodiversity, and food services to marine life, oceans also combat greenhouse gas emissions and pollution with enormous benefits for living creatures on earth,” he added.

Responsible for balancing biodiversity, temperature, and sustaining ecosystems, he said, “Oceans are very important for the survival of living creatures as they cover almost seventy percent of the earth’s surface.” However, due to increased human activities, the oceans are under threat from water pollution and environmental degradation caused by population growth and climate change. Haq noted that Pakistan has a 1,050-kilometer-long coastline shared by Sindh and Balochistan, which is a key source for various fish and a sanctuary for migratory birds including ducks and houbara.

As the planet’s greatest carbon sink, oceans absorb excess heat and control greenhouse gas emissions, with about 90 percent of the heat generated by rising gas emissions absorbed by the oceans today. Climate change-induced weather patterns, including rising sea temperatures, have threatened the habitats of migratory species and marine biodiversity such as turtles and sharks due to unchecked fishing, untreated waste dumping, and marine pollution. The excessive heat and energy warming the oceans lead to ice melting, sea-level rise, marine heatwaves, and ocean acidification, causing lasting impacts on marine biodiversity and coastal communities.

Tauheed highlighted that most heatwaves occurred between 2006 and 2015, causing widespread environmental degradation. In 2021, nearly 60 percent of the world’s ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave. He warned that more than half of the world’s marine species could face extinction by 2100 if oceans are not protected. He urged collective action to restore the health of oceans for future generations.

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