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Rising Ocean Temps Raise Health Questions

Project CLAMER, a collaboration of 17 European marine institutes, has released a 200-page paper that says the rising temperature of ocean water is causing a proliferation of the Vibrio genus of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning, serious gastroenteritis, septicemia and cholera, and which may cost millions of euros (dollars) in health care.

The paper, which synthesizes the findings of more than 100 projects funded by the European Union since 1998, also describes a host of other effects of ocean warming, both documented and forecast, including melting ice, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, increased storm intensity and frequency, along with chemical changes in the sea itself, including acidification and de-oxygenation.

“What was striking to me was the enormous pile of evidence that things are already happening,” Katja Philippart, a marine scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research who was involved in putting the study together, told The Associated Press. “There is so much happening already. We are just in the midst of it.”

This new understanding of the challenges facing our oceans calls for adaptation planning that addresses a suite of related health issues, from human consumption of contaminated seafood, ingestion of waterborne pathogens, and direct occupational or recreational exposure to marine-related disease, as well as reseilient infrastructure design and other strategic responses to coastal impacts.

ACT is studying climate change impacts on the ocean, such as sea level rise, as part of a major IDRC-funded study – Coastal Cities at Risk – headed by former ACT policy author and disaster management expert Dr. Gordon McBean.

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