A new study published in the journal Science says climate change and growing sea water temperature can make aquatic habitats unliveable for 60 per cent of fish species by 2100, if temperatures keep rising at unprecedented rates. 

Both saltwater and freshwater fish are the most sensitive to rising temperatures as spawning adults, and as embryos. At these life stages, fish use more energy and oxygen to survive, which unfortunately is already depleting fast in rapidly heating water bodies. 

Scientists studied almost 700 species of fish — all either economically or ecologically essential to sustaining an aquatic ecosystem that feeds billions of people around the world — and found them to be most vulnerable when in reproductive or embryonic stages of their life cycle.

Organisms have to breathe in order for their bodies to produce energy; this is equally true for human beings and for fish. In addition, we know that the energy needs of humans and animals alike depend on the temperature: When it’s warmer, the need for energy rises exponentially, and with it, the need for oxygen. On this basis, it follows that organisms can only adapt to rising temperatures in their immediate vicinity by providing their bodies with more oxygen. But there are certain species-specific limits on this ability; if those limits are exceeded, it can lead to cardiovascular collapse.

Since pre-industrial times, the planet’s temperature has slowly risen by just over 1 degree Celsius. In order to stop this rise, governments all over the world have been committing to halting this global rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to stay the devastation caused by global warming. If successful, this could limit the damage to aquatic life, to affect only 10 per cent of fish species, researchers found.

But a recent United Nations report shows this 1.5-degree Celsius limit is unlikely to hold; the world is on track to record a 3-degree Celsius spike by 2030. If we keep moving at this rate, scientists fear a worst-case scenario playing out for marine wildlife, which can increase the rate of their endangerment six-fold. 

From 1970 to 2014, 60 per cent of all animals — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, representing over 4,000 species — were wiped out by human activity, according to WWF. The sixth mass extinction may occur in around 2100. For freshwater fauna, the decline in population over the 44 years monitored was a staggering 80 per cent. The current rate of species loss is 100 to 1,000 times higher than only a few hundred years ago, when people began to alter Earth’s chemistry and crowd other creatures out of existence.

A healthy, sustainable future for all is only possible on a planet where nature thrives and forests, oceans and rivers are teeming with biodiversity and life. There has been systematic plunder of our forests in blatant violation of the green laws to make way for businesses. Lesser trees directly mean heating up of the atmosphere, with rising levels of carbon dioxide, monoxide and other gases.

Trees take in CO2 and release oxygen in the air. With lessening number of trees, we have naturally more carbon dioxide in the air that leads to global warming, melting of glaciers, flooding and droughts. It is not just wildlife and animal species that are vulnerable and going extinct. It is we humans too in the same box and sooner than later we are bound to face the heat in more direct onslaught as our disregard for nature continues in menacing forms.

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