MARINE life in Australia's oceans will be radically changed by a 4-degree increase in the earth's temperature, with "catastrophic" results expected for the natural environment and the national economy.
MARINE life in Australia's oceans will be radically changed by a 4-degree increase in the earth's temperature, with "catastrophic" results expected for the natural environment and the national economy."Under the broad range of changes that are now being reported, it is hard to conclude that anything other than a collapse of marine ecosystem resources is likely as we move towards average global temperatures of 4 degrees or higher," marine scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg told the conference on global warming in Melbourne yesterday.Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, said the Great Barrier Reef and many of Australia's fisheries would have changed "beyond recognition" by the end of this century.Changes in ocean temperature would greatly reduce stocks of phytoplankton an essential fish food during breeding times, causing widespread starvation."The costs of this collapse, associated with other impacts from rising sea levels, are likely to cost the Australian taxpayer billions of dollars and reduce our quality of life significantly," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.The economic value of Australia's ocean territory is estimated by the CSIRO to be about $52 billion a year 8 per cent of gross domestic product.Tourism would also be hit by large reductions in fish and coral life in the Great Barrier Reef.Professor Hoegh-Guldberg rejected the theory that the reef would simply migrate south as the ocean warmed, saying that coral would have to move at 40 kilometres a year to keep pace with a 4-degree change in the earth's temperature."The ability for coral species to disperse significantly over one generation is probably 10 kilometres or less," he told the conference.