Yep. Fish may be permanently intoxicated soon enough…
Sounds silly right, how on earth could we possibly cause fish to be permanently tiddly?!
In reality though, researchers have found ground-breaking results for the future of fisheries and marine ecosystems, across the entire earth. CO2 concentrations have become so freakin’ high, that fish may become essentially lost. In an ocean. Think Castaway if you will. The CO2 affects their brains in a condition known as hypercapnia with detrimental neurological, physiological and behavioural deficiencies.
Now imagine you’re a lost little fish, and that big mean hungry shark swims by… and before you know it, what you think is left, is right, and you have swam straight into the predator’s gobbler. You gotta take into account that, such as in predatory reef fish, the predator may also be totally bamboozled, and it is just a matter of lucky dip (or unlucky I guess if you’re the meal). Of course I’m giving this a bit of anthropomorphic license… but if you want to get to grips with the proper science, give this a read:
Ben I. McNeil, Tristan P. Sasse. Future ocean hypercapnia driven by anthropogenic amplification of the natural CO2 cycle. Nature, 2016; 529 (7586): 383 DOI: 10.1038/nature16156
These scientists have shown that if atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution continues to rise, fish and other marine animals in hotpots in the Southern, Pacific and North Atlantic open oceans may experience hypercapnia, they go as far as to say “By 2100, creatures in up to half the world’s surface oceans are expected to be affected by hypercapnia”. Anyone else concerned?
You should be.
In all of this, we must be scientists, and admit that predicting the onset of hypercapnia is difficult, due to a lack of global data, but this research is super-uber important. Not only does it mean the chances of your Friday night fish and chip dinner are drastically reduced by 2050, but it has serious detrimental consequences for the future of fisheries in the 21st century. And after all that bad news… I need a stiff drink.