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Thu Jul 11, 2013, 01:56 AM

I Don't Give a Damn If You Deny Global Warming, But...

...there is a very real problem emerging with CO2 mixing with ocean water and forming H2CO3 -- carbonic acid.

This effect is gradually turning our oceans acidic, which could have serious ramifications for the entire ecosystem before the end of this century.

National Geographic did an interesting expose on this phenomenon not too long back:

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/

On the pH scale, which runs from 0 to 14, solutions with low numbers are considered acidic and those with higher numbers are basic. Seven is neutral. Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries.


A change of 0.1 pH units may not seem like much, but the potential for affecting marine life is huge. Many aquatic creatures are very sensitive to fluctuations in the acid-base scale, even a shift of a few tenths of a degree in pH units could kill off entire species. This won't just affect fishermen and those industries dependent on them, but the impact will be felt along the entire food chain!

We've made great strides reducing pollutant levels in many U.S. cities. Over the past 30 years, sulfur dioxide levels are down 71%, carbon monoxide levels are down 79%, ozone down 25%, and nitrogen dioxide down 46%, but for some reason we don't seem to have the political will-power to do what needs to be done to reign in carbon dioxide as well.

So nevermind how hot its gotten this summer, or the prospect of rising ocean levels flooding cities -- pay attention to the other threat here: life on this planet as we know it.

We need to do something about CO2.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 04:06 AM

1. Isn't that what is killing the Great Barrier Reef? nt

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 09:53 AM

2. Acidification is likely part of it, but warmer water, pollution from runoff, storm damage as well

They're all working together in this sort of witches' cauldron of negative factors, and from what I've read, it's getting much worse much faster than most marine scientists had thought it would.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 10:19 AM

3. This is the main argument I've been using for almost 10 years now.

It is measurable in an unarguable fashion and the damage is unequivocal. It is a very effective way to get through to some people.

Good post.

I'd noticed this earlier and this seems like a good place to share it:

Antarctic krill face unhappy Hollywood ending if fossil fuel emissions keep rising
Australian study finds keystone Antarctic krill species struggle to hatch in more acidic oceans


I've no idea if anyone has ever done a study to find out if people care more about a particular creature once it's featured in one of those Hollywood computer animated movies.

But let's presume that people do and that the fan base for penguins (Happy Feet), clownfish (Finding Nemo) and ants (Ants) is now considerably larger than it once was.

This would mean that we're all bothered about that cutest of all the cuddly crustaceans, the krill, since actors Matt Damon and Brad Pitt loaned their voices to two of them for the film Happy Feet Two a couple of years ago,

So with sarcasm switch turned on, we are all now obviously right across new research, just published in the journal Nature Climate Change called Risk maps for Antarctic krill under projected Southern Ocean acidification, warning that as oceans become more acidic due to the burning of fossil fuels, krill numbers in the Antarctic could plummet risking ecosystem collapse. The study says:
The data revealed that substantial declines in the viability of major populations of krill in the region may occur within the next 100 years, which is on the trajectory of change that could result in catastrophic consequences for dependent marine mammals and birds of the Southern Ocean.


Krill is the backbone of the food web in the...


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/planet-oz/2013/jul/10/krill-antarctica-study-ocean-acidification-climate

Specific examples of the consequences are helpful.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 10:37 AM

4. The problem is that fossil fuels are the lifeblood of civilization at the moment.

That hasn't changed much for the last 100 years, and is unlikely to change very fast in the immediate future. It might change over the medium term, but unfortunately all the CO2 problems are starting to look like very near term issues.

Global civilization gets 87% of its energy from fossil fuels at the moment. In the process we generate the equivalent of 4000 cubic miles of gaseous CO2 or 8 cubic miles of liquid CO2 per year. Most of this is not from point sources where it could be captured and sequestered, even if the technology were available and proven.

It's a wicked problem.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 03:06 AM

5. Its definitely not the first time E&E had posts about

ocean acidification. Though thanks for the reminder.

I just don't agree with the dualistic presentation here. All greenhouse gasses, taken together, pose a grave threat to ocean life-- rising temperatures promote ocean anoxia, which is added to the acid problem, as well as further releases of CO2.

At this point we cannot separate them. If methane became the biggest mid-term GHG, then the resulting rise in temperature would still release greater amounts of CO2 later on.

One thing you may not be aware of is that one of the bigger differences between focus on global warming and focus on ocean acidification is that the latter makes a number of geoengineering ideas look less attractive... For instance, blocking the sun while allowing CO2 to accumulate still leaves us with dying oceans due to acidification.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2013, 09:33 AM

6. This is why I think of the problem as the release of "fossil" carbon

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2013, 11:47 AM

7. K&R

This can't get enough kicks and recs.

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