World leaders convene at UN headquarters next week for the first major bid to solve the toughest problems facing our oceans, from coral bleaching to plastic pollution, overfishing and rising seas due to climate change.
The Ocean Conference in New York June 5-9 attempts to rally nations big and small to make meaningful changes to preserve what is arguably the Earth’s most important resource, experts say.
US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord is anticipated to be a hot topic at the talks, which no high-ranking US officials are expected to attend. But despite Trump’s decision Thursday to end US participation in the Paris deal, which drew worldwide condemnation, experts at the Pew Charitable Trust said the US has been a part of crafting a broad “call to action,” and is expected to sign it.
The world just marked its three hottest years in modern times. And the oceans have absorbed about one third of the carbon dioxide released by human activities, protecting the planet from the full brunt of climate change.
Melting glaciers and sea ice at the poles threatens swell sea level to the point of washing away entire islands and populated coastlines, home to 37% of the planet’s population, in the coming decades.
Just 20 inches of sea level rise could displace 1.2m people from islands in the Caribbean Sea, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
An uninhabited island in the south Pacific, Henderson Island, thousands of miles from civilization was recently shown to be piling up more than 3,500 pieces of plastic per day.
Every year, more than eight million tons of plastic washes into the oceans, costing at least $8bn in damage to marine ecosystems and killing an estimated one million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and untold numbers of fish.