The Alarming Effects of Climate Change on our Oceans and Marine Life

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Environment

Exacerbated by human activity, climate change is one of the most imminent threats to civilization. Much of human life has been altered as a result of the global climate crisis, and this extends to all facets of our planet. The oceans are no exception. The United Nations has referred to the ocean as “the planet’s greatest carbon sink”, noting that it absorbs 90% of the resulting from excess greenhouse gas emissions[1]. Understandably, this has meant that temperatures are rising underwater as well, which has compounded into various catastrophic realities of our time. Not only do these escalating crises impact our oceans, and the life that inhabits them, but they also impact human beings as well. Here are some of the devastating ways in which climate change has impacted our oceans and marine life. 


Rising Sea Level

WTA Cyclone

By 2021, research by the World Meteorological Organization indicated that global sea levels had reached record highs[2]. This trend has been decades in the making and can be linked to the loss of ice across polar regions[3]. In particular, concerns were raised about how specific regions would be impacted because of this. With respect to Pakistan, by 2021, some experts were already warning that Karachi could be completely submerged by 2060[4]. Moreover, it was reported by 2022 that Pakistan was experiencing a 300 percent increase in glacial lake outburst floods and rising sea levels, where Thatta, Badin, and Karachi were in particular danger[5].


Increasing Temperatures

WTA Coastal Communities

As temperatures rise on the ground, and are absorbed by the ocean, temperatures in the water rise as well. A notable result of these increases in temperature is the loss of marine life. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rising water temperatures have been observed since the 1970s as a result of human activity and influence[6]. And in countries like Pakistan, this has had devastating consequences. By 2010, there were already concerns about how rising water surface temperatures would impact marine biodiversity[7]. There were particular concerns about economic impacts, as at the time close to 11% of the population in Sindh and Balochistan was believed to be dependent on trade related to marine life. By 2021, these impacts were being felt. Kamal Shah, the media coordinator of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum noted “climate change already did a sizeable damage. Many fish species have been depleted from Karachi’s coastline,” further noting that species of “shrimps and fish” had “vanished”[8].


The Impact on Coastal Communities


In countries like Pakistan, not only does the damage impact marine life but also communities that reside near coastal areas. In 2021, research published by The World Bank and Asian Development Bank noted that approximately one million people lived in the Indus Delta, emphasizing that this was not as high as it once was[9]. Research published in the International Journal of Engineering Updates indicated that sea erosion had impacted several coastal communities in districts across Southern Sindh (including Thatta, Badin, and Sujawal) which had driven migration toward Karachi[10]. Apart from the direct devastation, climate change has thus also resulted in long-term socio-economic consequences for coastal communities.

Simultaneously, the UK Met Office reported that approximately one million people in Pakistan would be vulnerable to yearly coastal flooding by 2070 to 2100[11].

In light of the research that has been published, it can be seen that climate change has had multifaceted and long-term impacts on the oceans. Not only has it forever altered marine biodiversity, but it has also severely effected vulnerable communities that have historically lived close to the ocean. 

















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