Oceans worth up to $222 bln annually in CO2 capture

June 5, 2014
Ocean waves come ashore near a nuclear reaction facility in San Clemente, CA, March 15, 2012

By absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere, the seas avert climate damage worth up to $222 billion (163 billion euros) every year, according to an estimate released on Thursday.

Fish catches are worth another $16 billion annually, according to the report by a non-governmental watchdog, the Global Ocean Commission, which hopes that by setting an economic price on the value of international waters, the bounty will be better managed.

The study, coinciding with World Environment Day, was released ahead of two days of ministerial-level talks in Bonn that will seek to remove roadblocks towards a new post-2020 UN climate agreement.

The ocean naturally takes in (CO2) though microscopic marine organisms at the surface, which convert the gas to carbon.

The process prevents the gas from adding to global warming although it is also making the seas more acidic, which will have an impact on many ecosystems.

"While the science of in the high seas is still evolving, we estimate that nearly half a billion tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of over 1.5 billion tonnes of , are captured and stored by high-seas ecosystems annually," the report said.

A fisherman brings up the nets from the water off the coast of the Mediterranean village of Gruissan, France on May 5, 2014

"Based on current estimates of the economic cost of additional carbon in the atmosphere... we find that the value of storage by high-seas ecosystems ranges between $74 billion and $222 billion annually."

The report said nearly 10 million tonnes of fish are caught annually on high seas, translating into more than $16 billion in landed value.

It pointed to a hotchpotch of international laws and regulations governing the oceans, many of which were poorly enforced, or not at all. This encouraged pollution, waste and over-fishing.

"There is growing evidence that the ecosystem services provided by the high seas are of high social and economic value," said the report.

"The evidence also is clear that poor management of human activities on the high seas has eroded the natural wealth and productivity of high-seas ecosystems with negative economic and social consequences for all of us."

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Bob Osaka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2014
Is anyone struck by the absurdity here? "Averting $222 billion in climate damage," what does that even mean? Money is a temporary human construct , promissory notes backed by the veracity of politicians. Economic "values" are not the same as physical values. Placing an economic value on the carbon cycle is akin to claiming ownership of a distant galaxy. Bankers, businessmen and their politicians saying something like, "Yes, the ocean is the mother and cradle of all life on the planet, but what has it done for me lately?"
How will the ocean be able to use this windfall profit? Use it to clean up all the floating plastic debris?
The values of this forum are in si units and fundamental constants along with conversions into imperial units. For example: adding one yottajoule to the Earth may cause clathrate hydrate to explode into the atmosphere with resultant cascade of runaway negative feedback ending human civilization. What's that in dollar values?
not rated yet Jun 23, 2014
Uh, scuse moi - fish don't absorb CO2, they breathe oxygen and exhale CO2. If they want less CO2 in the oceans, then they should encourage fishing.

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