Report predicts that loss of ocean net primary productivity over the next 200 years will be at least 50%.
The present value of the oceans in terms of their CO2 capture and storage is between $72- $22 Billion each year.
As ocean pasture productivity declines the loss of this most powerful ecosystem service force will be a natural and economic catastrophe.
Putting this in a useful context, our living oceans presently capture some 43 gigatonnes/billion tonnes of C per year, that’s 158 gigatonnes of CO2. Of that 31 gigatonnes of CO2 is sequestered or sunk each year. So with the horrifying loss of 50% of the next 200 years of CO2 not being used by collapsing ocean pastures the result will be an additional 3 trillion tonnes of CO2 that will be forcing additional climate change. (Hoffman et al Postdam Climate Inst.)
Keep in mind that the total amount of CO2 said to have been directly spewed into the air in the last 100 years of the fossil fuel age is estimated at more than half a trillion tonnes! Add to that additional CO2 from land use change and the number is closing in on 1 trillion tonnes. (Nature 2009 Allen et al.)
So ongoing ocean collapse alone over the next 200 years will put 3-6 times the CO2 into the world’s atmosphere as the fossil fuel age has to date, far more than the burning of fossil fuels!
But lets deal with the present first and put off dealing with the future. This means that ocean pasture collapse is today responsible for the loss of something like 3+ billion tonnes of CO2 each year and it is getting worse.
Remember this is not something that has just begun. Collapsing ocean pastures have been suffering so for at least 50 years. The resulting loss of ocean primary productivity (read carbon capture and storage) thus includes a backlog of something like 150 billion tonnes of CO2 that should have become carbon based life including fish.
Another report of the Global Oceans Commission, a NGO, says the value of healthy ocean pastures in terms of CO2 is looking to be $72 billion – $222 billion each year. Given the collapse of ocean pasture productivity is equal to 3+ billion tonnes of CO2 which even at a value of $1/tonne would be $3 Billion per year, more likely the value of lost CO2 uptake by ocean pastures is more like $10-$30 billion per year.
My proposition has been that be restoring ocean pastures back to the state of health and abundance, they and we enjoyed 50-100 years ago, those revived ocean pastures will convert billions of tonnes of CO2 into tens of billions of fish to feed the human race and all other forms of ocean life as well.
To put this into a perhaps more familiar terrestrial context, the Amazon Rainforest is said to be some 600 million hectares in size and the World Wildlife Fund states it is storing in the mature living forest about 100 billion tonnes of CO2 in standing biomass, accumulated over the course of a century or more.
But the Amazon and the rest of the world’s forests are losing carbon as well and the total net carbon sink effect for the entire world’s forests is a mere 400 million tonnes of CO2 per year. (Science 2011 Yude Pan et al)
Oceans take up 15 times more carbon each year than all of the rest of the global biosphere. EACH YEAR they capture and store through solubility and photosynthesis and 158 billion tonnes of CO2 in the living ocean. Fully 31 billion tonnes of that CO2 is sequestered each year in the deep ocean where it remains safely away from the atmosphere for millenia and longer. (Hoffman et al)
As we are losing our ocean pastures it is as if we were to eradicate and turn to a desert an entire Amazon rain forest each 3-5 years! And we have been doing this for at least 50 years. Just how many Amazon Rainforests do we have on this Blue Planet, can we afford to have lost 10 Ocean Amazon forests of life already.
So what are we to do? Do we stand by idly and allow our vital ocean pastures to collapse into an even worse state of health and abundance or can we do something.
It is time to restore and revive the collapsing ocean pastures and we have shown that this can be accomplished with remarkable and immediate success. In doing so we not only help save the planet from the ravages of our CO2 we bring back the fish!
Today the value of World fisheries is estimated to be $91 Billion. But the cost of catching fish has more than doubled in the last 50 years leading to perilous economic times for the world’s fishing fleets. (Nature June 2012)
Restoring and reviving ocean pastures will surely result in a minimum increase in catch of 10%, almost certainly several times that amount, a minimum value of more than $10 billion per year. Our work in the North Pacific has delivered not merely a 10% 1/10th improvement in salmon fisheries, but rather a 4 fold increase!