Posted by: Mike Dunmyer
Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill. Most of it focuses carbon emissions and it’s impact on global warming. This is serious stuff, but carbon emissions are causing another crisis that may be even more damaging – ocean acidification. To help push acidification into the conversation, here are a few talking points:
The Basics (I know, bad pun)
- Acidification occurs when atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the ocean.
- The ocean is slightly basic, with an historic pH of around 8.2 (7 is neutral). As CO2 dissolves in seawater, the ocean’s pH declines, becoming more acidic.
- Over the past 200 years, CO2 absorption has caused the ocean’s pH to decline by .1 (30%).
- If we continue to produce CO2 at the current rate, the ocean’s pH could drop another .3 units by 2100 – a 150% increase in acidity.
OK, so what?
- Corals, certain phytoplankton, mussels, snails, and certain larval fish require calcium carbonate to develop their shells and skeletons.
- CO2 dissolved in seawater causes a chemical reaction that removes carbonate ions, which impacts the survival of these organisms.
- The decline of plankton, a vital food source for many species, could alter the food web.
- Coral reefs will rebuild more slowly and lose the ability to fight off bleaching, disease and death. By the middle of this century, coral reefs may be eroding faster than they can be rebuilt.
- About half of all federally managed fisheries rely on reefs for portions of their life cycles.
NOAA’s Richard Feely, an acidification expert, says, “What was projected to occur in the open ocean models by the end of the century, we found is occurring right now along our entire continental shelf as far as we looked.”
From an ocean perspective, this is why Waxman-Markey and its goals of CO2 emission reduction are so important. If we can’t get our terrestrial act together with clean renewable energy and major lifestyle change, we’ll have more than a global warming problem – we’ll have dead oceans.
So Champs, let’s go preach the message about ocean acidification and drive home the need for emissions reductions, lifestyle change and support for bills like Waxman-Markey that get us going in the right direction. I know this guy is motivated!
Date Posted: June 23, 2009 @ 8:19 am Comments (2)
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time. You must be logged in to the Circle of Champions to comment.