Sunday, April 3, 2011

Humans threatening Antarctic's biodiversity

Antarctica is a very special continent on Earth, the one that has through many thousands of years developed unique ecosystems with species that can be found only here and nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately the current mix of different environmental problems such as climate change, pollution, invasive species and overfishing is threatening the survival of many Antarctic's ecosystems.

Climate change is the biggest threat to life in Antarctica. If humans continue with the excessive carbon emissions this will have extremely negative impact on Antarctica for decades to come, and many unique species to Antarctica will perish from the face of the Earth.

Not only that many species in Antarctica are extremely sensitive to even the slight increase in temperature but climate change is also opening the door for many invasive alien species as well as making ocean around Antarctica more acidic.

Dr. James McClintock of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States, has issued the warning about the ocean acidification issue around Antarctica by claiming that "The Southern Ocean is the canary in the coal mine with respect to ocean acidification. This vulnerability is caused by a combination of ocean mixing patterns and low temperature enhancing the solubility of carbon dioxide".

Together with working on international climate deal that would oblige all countries to significant reductions in carbon emissions world leaders also have to make sure to:

1. Reduce the air and water pollution from increased shipping traffic, wrecks and oil spills.
2. Stop the further flow of invasive species to Antarctica.
3. Stop overfishing, and also reduce the hunting of whales and seals because they play extremely important role in marine food chain as one of the top predators.
4. Decrease the number of tourists in this area and make sure that some areas with the most sensitive ecosystems stay out of the tourists reach.
5. Keep the close control on research stations and ships to decrease the levels of pollution.
6. Make sure to prohibit oil and mineral exploration in Antarctica in years to come.

Instead of always being a threat wouldn't be nice if for a change we could be actually doing something to help the survival of unique ecosystems, not only in Antarctica, but also around the globe.

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