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Mediterranean demise

By Paul Robinson - 13 Jun 2014 9:40:0 GMT
Mediterranean demise

Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern ancients polluted that Sea over thousands of years, but since the modern industrial revolution, we have brought it to the brink of destruction; Manarola image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The Med has long been thought of as a polluted sea. So many nations have dumped their sewage into it and its neighbour, the Black Sea. Warming and acidification have now resumed the downward spiral of the environment, after a spell of cleaner beaches and fish colonisation through the Suez exit from the Red Sea. 300 million coastal inhabitants, even if only for the summer, means a lot of service infrastructure has been built up. Now the marine ecology seems doomed by the global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions worldwide. Climate change will have its way and the carbonic acid will eat into shells, whether we like it or not.

As the lead in the MedSeA Project for the EU, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) has been studying its neighbouring piece of sea-estate for more than 3 years to discover acidification and warming effects. Sea grass meadows, Coralligene reefs and Vermetid snail reefs are declining rapidly instead of building up whole ecosystems with thousands of species. Erosion is also prevented by these reefs so human structures and cities especially will be damaged alongside food sources.

Volcanic activity has always affected the Mediterranean's acidity. Modern emissions have exacerbated that problem with invasive species taking advantage of past extinctions, as well as their new habitats. The whole Sea, from Middle East to Western Europe has been investigated by a multitude of scientists from 12 countries. Their summary today warns us all about fossil fuel emissions, especially carbon dioxide, and the loss of important species and whole ecosystems. Other bodies of water have already disappeared and become overpolluted by human actions. Now we might lose the main inhabitants of the ancient provider for civilisations and culture. This is not a modern myth, as the few distractors would hold, but terrible and real news.