Hotter summer temperatures are killing fish

Global temperature rise due to uncontrolled climate change is not only causing droughts that will mess with farmer’s crops, it’s going to kill off another major part of the world’s food supply as higher temperatures cause fish die-offs. And it’s already happening.

Two and a half billion people rely on fish for their daily protein, making them a staple in our diet, most of whom are the poorest among us.

But whether the fish is coming from the sea or fresh water sources, rising global temperatures are threatening fish populations even in places where temperatures are usually cooler.

A new study examined fish populations in Wisconsin lakes, and the researchers made a disturbing discovery.

According to Environmental News Network:

Fish die-offs in Wisconsin lakes are expected to double by mid-century and quadruple by 2100 due to warmer summer temperatures, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

To better understand how fish die-offs are changing, researchers from Reed College and the University of California, Davis, analyzed a database of freshwater fish die-offs in Wisconsin combined with lake temperature data and simulations. They found that more than 100 of 500 fish die-offs recorded between 2004 and 2014 in the state were strongly linked with heat waves and warmer average surface water temperatures.

Scientists are already warning that global temperatures are going to breach the 2 C degree Celsius threshold and could go even higher because humans are not taking action fast enough to reverse the problems causing it, such as carbon emissions.

And unlike past fish die-offs, researchers say this study connects this one to higher temperatures.

“This research takes a substantial step forward in connecting the dots between the occurrence of rare ecological catastrophes and climate warming,” said lead author Samuel Fey of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. “Historically, the causes of animal die-offs have been difficult to study because these events tend to be rare and unpredictable.”

But record highs have been occurring every year now for several years, giving scientists the ability to collect data by recording how many fish died off in one year compared to the previous and so on. It’s likely that die-offs will worsen in years to come as temperatures keep rising, and that’s bad news for every human and every animal who relies on fish as their main source of food.

This will cause a food-chain catastrophe and a human tragedy if we don’t act now.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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