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November 26 2013


Ocean Acidity Rising 10x Faster Than At Any Time in the Past 55 Million Years

Credit: Christopher Krembs, TAMU

Ocean acidification continues to rise at a rate “unprecedented in Earth’s history,” a direct result of past and current increases in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, posing significant threats to the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and the diverse range of products and services they provide the world over, according to a report produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and released for the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World..

The latest scientific research on ocean acidification indicates the pH of the oceans is decreasing 10-times faster than at any time in the past 55 million years and may be decreasing faster “than at any time in the last 300 million years,” according to “Ocean Acidification: A Summary for Policymakers” presented at the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World.

The culprit: rising anthropogenic (human) emissions of CO2. The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere has risen 40 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The oceans historically have absorbed about ¼ of all the CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans since that time. Today, they absorb some 10 million metric tons of CO2 on a daily basis, the report authors note in an executive summary. To date, those emissions have led ocean acidity to increase 26 percent.

Ocean acidification: Rising human carbon emissions the culprit

Increasing ocean acidification lowers the capacity of the oceans to absorb seawater and hence also threatens the viability of marine ecosystems. That spells potential trouble for already troubled ocean plant and animal species, many of which are of vital importance to human societies the world over.

As the authors highlight, the gathering of 540 experts from 37 countries in Monterey, California for the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World attests to the growing amount of interest, scientific research, and sense of urgency, regarding “ocean acidification, its impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic consequences and implications for policy.”

What do we need to do in respone to what amounts as a “clear and present danger” to the health and integrity of marine ecosystems? The report authors state the solution plainly and succinctly:

“Reducing CO2 emissions is the only way to minimise long-term, largescale risks.”


Source: “Ocean Acidification Summary for Policymakers”

Considerations for Policy Makers

In the executive summary, they go on to highlight a summary of considerations they recommend policy makers take into account in their decision making:

  • The primary cause of ocean acidification is the release of atmospheric CO2 from human activities. The only known realistic mitigation option on a global scale is to limit future atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • Appropriate management of land use and land-use change can enhance uptake of atmospheric CO2 by vegetation and soils through activities such as restoration of wetlands, planting new forests and reforestation.
  • Geoengineering proposals that do not reduce atmospheric CO2 – for example, methods that focus solely on temperature (such as aerosol backscatter or reduction of greenhouse gases other than CO2) – will not prevent ocean acidification. Adding alkaline minerals to the ocean would be effective and economically feasible only on a very small scale in coastal regions, and the unintended environmental consequences are largely unknown.
  • The impacts of other stressors on ocean ecosystems such as higher temperatures and deoxygenation – also associated with increasing CO2 – will be reduced by limiting increases in CO2 levels.
  • The shellfish aquaculture industry faces significant threats and may benefit from a risk assessment and analysis of mitigation and adaptation strategies. For example, seawater monitoring around shellfish hatcheries can identify when to limit the intake of seawater with a lower pH, hatcheries can be relocated, or managers can select larval stages or strains that are more resilient to ocean acidification for breeding.
  • At local levels, the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystem resilience may be constrained by minimising other local stressors3,4,5 through the following:
  1. Developing sustainable fisheries management practices such as regulating catches to reduce overfishing and creating long-term bycatch reduction plans. If implemented and enforced, this type of management has been shown to sustain ecosystem resilience.
  2. Adopting sustainable management of habitats, increased coastal protection, reduced sediment loading and application of marine spatial planning.
  3. Establishing and maintaining Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that help manage endangered and highly vulnerable ecosystems to enhance their resilience against multiple environmental stressors.
  4. Monitoring and regulating localised sources of acidification from runoff and pollutants such as fertilisers.
  5. Reducing sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and ship exhausts that have significant acidifying effects locally.

Main image credit: Christopher Krembs, TAMU

The post Ocean Acidity Rising 10x Faster Than At Any Time in the Past 55 Million Years appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

October 08 2013


New Research Reveals Climate Warming 55 MYA was Geologically Instantaneous

PETMfig1 (1)New research into past changes in climate indicates that global warming can take place much more suddenly than previously thought – over the course of only about 13 years. Temperatures at high latitudes rose as much as 8ºC (14ºF) and oceans warmed from surface to bottom some 55 million years ago during what’s known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

The rapid rise in global temperature caused massive disruptions and changed climate conditions, weather patterns, the distribution of plant and animal species, and ecology the world over. Driving it all was a massive increase in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. The massive, abrupt injection of CO2 into the atmosphere, in turn, was driven by intense volcanic activity on the seafloor, which also drove a further separation of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates and the widening of the North Atlantic Ocean basin.

Instantaneous Global Warming

The scientific consensus was that a massive release of CO2 into the atmosphere over a period of some 10,000 years drove the PETM temperature rise. Research conducted by two Rutgers University geologists indicates that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 during the PETM occurred in a geologic instant, over a mere 13 years, driving a global temperature rise of 5ºC (9ºF), however, according to a Phys.org report.

Studying drilling core samples from an area of southern New Jersey that was covered by a warm sea during the PETM, Rutgers’ geologists Morgan Schaller and James Wright discovered an alternating, cyclic pattern of dark clay bands about 2 centimeters thick rich in organic material. Analyzing the clay bands, the pair of researchers found changes in ratios of heavier carbon-13 and lighter carbon-12 isotopes.

The 20% drop in atmospheric carbon-13 concentration they measured in the core samples can “plausibly account” for their observations is “a large, instantaneous release of C-13-depleted carbon,” associated with intense volcanic activity, according to their report, “Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum,” in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Scientists have been using this event from 55 million years ago to build models about what’s going on now,” Schaller was quoted as saying. “But they’ve been assuming it took something like 10,000 years to release that carbon, which we’ve shown is not the case. We now have a very precise record through the carbon release that can be used to fix those models.”

The research pair estimates the intense marine volcanic activity some 55 million years ago caused some 3,000 gigatons of carbon to be released into the atmosphere from hydrocarbon-rich, organic mudstone, and methane hydrate deposits on the seafloor of the continental margins.

In addition to forcing rapid warming, this led to an abrupt rise in the acidity of the oceans, which, in turn, led to mass extinctions of the phytoplankton that not only form the base of the marine food chain, but produce as much as half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb as much as half the total atmospheric CO2 sequestered as part of the carbon cycle. Similarly drastic changes have been found in terrestrial flora and fauna.

Though nowhere near the same order of magnitude, human CO2 emissions are causing similarly profound and abrupt climate and ecological change today. “We’ve shown unequivocally what happens when CO2 increases dramatically – as it is now, and as it did 55 million years ago,” Wright was quoted.

“The oceans become acidic and the world warms up dramatically. Our current carbon release has been going on for about 150 years, and because the rate is relatively slow, about half the CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans and forests, causing some popular confusion about the warming effects of CO2. But 55 million years ago, a much larger amount of carbon was all released nearly instantaneously, so the effects are much clearer.”

The post New Research Reveals Climate Warming 55 MYA was Geologically Instantaneous appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

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June 19 2013


Hawaii’s Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control

Are Hawaii's fishermen the scapegoats over environmental problems of which they have no control?Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu.

Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries.

“Hawaii fishermen asked policymakers to address how runoff caused by land development harms reefs, fisheries and oceans when they consider how to cope with the effects of climate change,” the AP’s Audrey Mcavoy wrote in news report.

Adopting an ecosystems-based approach to fisheries management

Established by Congress in 1976 per the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act (MSA), the WRFMC is one of eight Fishery Management Councils in the US. Its regulatory authority stretches from the Pacific Ocean waters off Hawaii to include those off Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. MSA was amended in 1996 “to prevent overfishing, minimize by-catch and protect the fish stocks and habitat.”

Adopting a bottom-up approach to fisheries and marine resource management, the Council is made up of 16 Council members, which draw on input from local and community fishermen and the broader public, as well as marine scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pelagic Fisheries Research Program.

Local fishermen have wound up being “scapegoats” for declining fish stocks and catches, one fishermen told committee members, arguing “that what happens on land is one cause of deteriorating reefs.”  But he says fishermen can’t control what happens ‘up mauka,’ or “toward the mountains,” Mcavoy reported from the Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committee for Hawaii fisheries meeting.

Said local fishermen Carl Jellings,

“We fight every day so we can continue fishing. It’s getting harder and harder because more things are happening in the environment that we’re getting blamed for.”

Push for public-private collaboration on climate change adaptation strategies

Scientists at the meeting highlighted the rise in global mean temperatures and a drop in local rainfall, pointing out how different fish species differ in their ability to adapt to climate change.

They also highlighted that ongoing increases in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in ocean acidification, putting additional pressure on coral reefs and marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

These threats are very real and pose very difficult problems that involve fundamental trade-offs and controversy, they added.

The committee drafted recommendations proposing public-private sector collaboration to craft climate change adaptation strategies. These are to be considered by WRFMC members.

A proposal that the state also study Hawaii’s carrying capacity – how many people can live in and visit Hawaii without irrevocably harming natural resources – was also adopted. “How are you going to say we’ve got to reduce 1 million tourists to be sustainable? Or 10 million tourists to become sustainable? How are you going to tell the hotel industry that? The tourism industry that?” Jellings was quoted as saying.

The post Hawaii’s Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

August 03 2012


On Our Radar: Hunger in North Korea

Floods have swept away crops and damaged wells and pumping stations, leaving many without food or clean drinking water, a United Nations agency said.

April 19 2012


The Nine Planetary Boundaries

Mark Lynas is a journalist  climate activist, and author of The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans. Speaking at a Long Now Foundation seminar last month, Lynas speaks of the nine planetary boundaries human society now faces as we struggle to find a path for a sustainable future. These boundaries include biodiversity loss,  biosphere and oceanic inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous , ocean acidification, water consumption, land use, ozone depletion, atmospheric particulate pollution, and chemical pollution. The excerpts below introduce the idea and discuss what Lynas believes is the most critical and urgent boundary: biodiversity loss. The full seminar is available from Fora.tv

Mark Lynas: The Nine Planetary Boundaries from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

Mark Lynas: The Nine Planetary Boundaries from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

January 10 2012


Washington State Pushed to Recognize Threat of Ocean Acidification to Coastal Waters

Ocean acidification is receiving greater attention from marine scientists as ocean waters worldwide have been found to be getting more acidic. Absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the world ocean – including the plankton, coral and shellfish that live in them – is the largest carbon sink on the planet, but this ability is limited. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now so high that the limit is being reached, which is making it more acidic.

Based on its latest findings on ocean acidification, the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound have been classified as “waters of concern” by the state in its latest report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Increasing acidity is already causing fundamental changes and problems throughout the Sound’s marine ecosystem and food web, which is reducing the supply of seafood and threatening the livelihood of the fishing industry, according to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in Tucson.

“Data show that ocean acidification is threatening the region’s ability to support fish and shellfish. It also makes the area a priority for environmental monitoring and assessment,” according to CBD.

The Carbon Cycle and Ocean pH

The world’s ocean absorbs and stores more than 22 million tons of CO2 every day, most of which is produced by human activities, CBD notes. The world ocean has become 30% more acidic since pre-industrial times. Increasing acidity makes ocean waters more acidic, which stunts the growth of marine animals that use it to build shells and skeletons, causing deformations that compromise the health of these marine life forms. As plankton, coral and shellfish health and populations decline, the reverberations ripple across the marine food web, reducing populations of fish and other marine life forms that rely on them for food.

“Ocean acidification is putting the whole Puget Sound ecosystem at risk,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the CBD’s oceans director. “Focusing on the entire Sound as a ‘water of concern’ because of ocean acidification is a key step toward monitoring the effects of this sea change and curbing those effects.”

One example is the inability of baby oysters to survive in regional Northwest coastal waters, a trend that’s developed over the past six years,which is partly due to increased ocean acidification.

The increasing acidity of US ocean waters was not even considered as part of state environmental assessments for the EPA, until recently that is. A 2009 federal lawsuit filed by the CBD resulted in a November, 2010 decision by the EPA to direct all states to consider ocean acidification as a threat to water quality under the Clean Water Act.

Still, the state of Washington decided not to classify its coastal waters as “impaired” by acidification, rather only Puget Sound was identified as “waters of concern,” a less urgent category, the CBD notes. Identifying its coastal waters as “impaired” would have required the state to curb carbon pollution.

“The science is in, and it says the Northwest’s stretch of ocean, and all the marine life it supports, is in trouble,” said Sakashita. “Washington may also be a warning beacon for the future of our oceans. But it isn’t enough to simply recognize the problem. We have to act, and that means cutting carbon pollution.”

September 20 2011


Warming Climate Brings Sea Level Rise, Land Loss and Marine Migrations to Europe’s Seas

Sea level rise in EuropeEurope’s seas are changing at an unprecedented rate, much faster than climate scientists anticipated.
Seawater temperatures have been rising around 10-times faster than average over the past 25 years, while wind speeds have also been increasing. The combination of rising sea levels and stronger winds has resulted in the loss of 15% of Europe’s coasts.

European sea surface temperature increases were three to six-times higher than the global average from 1986-2006, a research team found, as Arctic sea ice has melted, according to the Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystem Project Report (CLAMER).

“Change has been clearly visible and is much more rapid than we thought was possible,” Carlo Heip, chair of the CLAMER project and lead author of the report, told Reuters last Tuesday.

Melting ice sheets and glaciers add more uncertainty regarding how fast sea levels will rise, which threatens populations in all low-lying areas of Europe. Current estimates for 2100 suggest European sea levels could rise 60 centimeters and up to 1.9 meters along some parts of the U.K. coast.

“Scenario simulations suggest that by the end of the 21st century, the temperature of the Baltic Sea may have increased by 2 to 4 degrees centigrade, the North Sea by 1.7 degrees, and the Bay of Biscay by 1.5 to 5 degrees,” the researchers found.

These aren’t the only large-scale change taking place, offshore or on-shore, as a result of relatively abrupt changes in climate, they noted.

Ocean warming and the melting of sea ice across the Arctic Ocean off Russia’s northern coast is bringing about changes in the marine food chain as marine life migrates to the Atlantic from the Pacific. Some species may wind up being able to thrive in their new environments, but the migrations are bound to have significant impacts on fish populations, as well as commercial fisheries and the human populations that depend on them, according to the report.

The CLAMER research team also found that some strains of bacteria were becoming more prevalent, potentially becoming threats to human health. Strains of cholera have increased in the North Sea over the past 50 years, they noted, perhaps due to changing seawater temperatures.

The research team urged European Union officials “to keep its finger on the pulse” of marine climate change, urging, among, among other recommendations, greater study of sea level changes due to the break-up of ice sheets and melting, coastal erosion, temperature changes, ocean acidification, marine ecosystems and ocean circulation changes.

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June 21 2011


State of the Oceans Report: Sending Out An SOS

State of the Oceans report sends stark warning for health of marine ecosystemsA preliminary report released today by an international panel of interdisciplinary marine scientists on behalf of the International Programme on the State of the Oceans gives a stark warning that unless the combined threats facing the world’s ocean are not curbed soon, a marine mass extinction could occur on a scale unprecedented in human history.

“The findings are shocking,” said IPSO Scientific Director Alex Rogers. “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications become far worse that we had individually realized. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”

The conclusions of the report are the product of a first-ever workshop bringing together marine experts and scientist from various disciplines to assess the latest ocean stresses and impacts, and to determine the effects of those multiple stresses on current and future ocean health. The workshop enabled these experts and scientists to engage a comprehensive, global view of the cumulative threats facing the ocean, and how they impact the future viability of ocean ecosystems.

From the report:

“This examination of synergistic threats leads to the conclusion that we have underestimated the overall risks and that the whole of marine degradation is greater tha thte sum of its parts, and that degradation is now happening at a faster rate than expected”

The preliminary report posits seven key points to “drive a common sense rethink”:

  • Human actions have resulted in warming and acidification of the ocean and are now causing increased hypoxia (low oxygen)
    Studies of the Earth’s past indicate these three symptoms (warming, acidification, hypoxia) indicate “disturbances of the carbon cycle” associated with all five previous mass extinctions on Earth. The rate of carbon absorption by the ocean is already far greater than what it was at the time of the last globally significant marine mass extinction when up to half of some marine deep-sea species where wiped out.
  • The speeds of many negative changes to the ocean are near to or are tracking the worst-case scenarios from the IPCC and other predictions. Some are as predicted, but many are faster than anticipated, and many are still accelerating
  • The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood
  • Timelines for action are shrinking
    The longer we take to get serious about reducing carbon emissions, the more it will cost and the harder it will be to effectively make meaningful reductions. In the meantime, environmental damage will accrue causing greater socioeconomic impacts. The problem isn’t going away.
  • Resilience of the ocean to climate change impacts is severely compromised by the other stressors from human activities, including fisheries, pollution, and habitat destruction
  • Ecosystem collapse is occurring as a result of both current and emerging stressors
    Among those stressors are chemical pollutants, overfishing, agricultural runoff, and sediment loads.
  • The extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing

The report cites a wholly inadequate approach to management of marine resources and activities that impact the ocean, all of which have led to “intense multiple stressors acting together in many marine ecosystems.” These impacted ecosystems lack the resilience to withstand increased pressures from expanding human populations and increasing rates of CO2 emissions.

A spate of other research supports the findings of the IPSO study, all showing an ocean under severe threat, including disappearing coral reefs, rapidly increasing acidification, and growing incidences of marine life extinctions.

The IPSO report urges a change of human interaction with the ocean and adoption of a “holistic approach to sustainable management of all activities that impinge marine ecosystems.”

“This has to be part of a wider re-evaluation of the core values of human society and its relationship to the natural world and the resources on which we all rely.”

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May 27 2011


New Study Suggests Current Laws Can Help Local Communities Ease Hot Spots of Ocean Acidification

Many coastal areas have acidic "hot spots" caused by local problems that can be mitigated with current laws.Many experts warn of rapidly increasing ocean acidification as a global issue in need of urgent action. While carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels drives the ongoing alteration in ocean chemistry on a global scale, a new study just published in the journal Science says coastal communities don’t need to wait for global solution to address the problem.

The report was authored by analysts and scientists from Standford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions, the EPA and NOAA. Their research suggests that many coastal areas become acidic “hot spots” through local problems like erosion, runoff pollution from cities and agricultural areas, poor land-use planning, and localized air pollution.

Lead author Ryan Kelly says that looking at the problem of ocean acidification only from the perspective of global carbon emissions is missing the whole picture of the problem:

“It looks like up to half of the stressors that are driving local hot spots can be locally derived,” said Kelly. “CO2 is a global problem, but it only may be half of the story.”

Staying within budget

Coastal waters stay healthy by staying within their “pH budget,” and often times that budget is exceeded by local stresses which can be alleviated through current laws and regulations.

“Since an acidification hotspot can negatively impact a community, its causes need to be tackled quickly,” said Melissa Foley of the Center for Ocean Solutions. “We identified practical steps communities can take today to counter local sources of acidity.”

The remedies available to coastal communities include compliance with sections of the Clean Water Act requiring states to prevent polluted runoff from reaching local streams, bays, and oceans, and limiting soil erosion to stop fertilizer from leaching into waterways, a source of acidification.

Other tactics suggested in the study for combating local hot spots are adoption of sustainable land-use polices limiting urban sprawl and enforcing limits on nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions, as stipulated in the Clean Air Act.

Source and further reading:

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December 08 2010


An Alert on Ocean Acidity

Carbon dioxide emissions from man-made sources are causing the acidity level to rise at what is probably the fastest rate in 65 million years, threatening global fisheries, a study says.

November 19 2010


A Call to Action on Ocean Acidity

States bordering water bodies that are becoming more acidic from the absorption of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

October 18 2010


Federal Task Force Affirms Need for a National Strategy to Protect Wildlife, Natural

EarthJustice.org Findings call for more climate change adaptation planning across federal programs. October 14, 2010 Washington, D.C. — The following are statements from Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society, Outdoor Alliance, American Rivers, National Parks Conservation Association and the Wildlife Conservation Society: “Melting sea ice increasingly threatens polar bears and walruses, [...]

June 07 2010


Ocean Acidification in the Arctic: What Are the Consequences of Carbon Dioxide Increase on Marine Ecosystems?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603092018.htm ScienceDaily (June 4, 2010) — Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions not only lead to global warming, but also cause another, less well-known but equally disconcerting environmental change: ocean acidification. A group of 35 researchers of the EU-funded EPOCA project have just started the first major CO2 perturbation experiment in the Arctic Ocean. Their goal is to [...]

June 06 2010


Ocean Acidification in the Arctic: What Are the Consequences of Carbon Dioxide Increase on Marine Ecosystems?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603092018.htm ScienceDaily (June 4, 2010) — Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions not only lead to global warming, but also cause another, less well-known but equally disconcerting environmental change: ocean acidification. A group of 35 researchers of the EU-funded EPOCA project have just started the first major CO2 perturbation experiment in the Arctic Ocean. Their goal is to [...]

May 24 2010


Biodiversity in Peril, the U.N. Warns

Biological diversity is declining faster than previously estimated, and the trend will eventually threaten "the livelihoods and food security of hundreds of millions of people" unless swift action is taken, a United Nations report says.

May 21 2010


It's Love-Hate: Plants and Carbon Dioxide

A study shows that higher levels of carbon dioxide interfere with plants' ability to process nitrate, a vital soil nutrient, stunting the growth of key proteins.

April 27 2010


April 02 2010


Ocean Acidification: ‘Evil Twin’ Threatens World’s Oceans, Scientists Warn

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330092821.htm ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2010) — The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world’s oceans, international marine scientists have warned. “Ocean conditions are already more extreme than those experienced by marine organisms and ecosystems for millions of years,” the researchers say in the [...]

March 17 2010


Acceleration of Ocean Acidification Exceeds Most Devastating Historical Patterns

Eons ago, roughly 55 million years, to be specific, there was an horrific collapse of the food chain of our oceans due to massive increases in the acidity of the water. I have warned repeatedly about the impact of a modern repeat of ocean acidification, as a consequence of deforestation and our reliance on fossil fuels . Now, thanks to a report published in the journal Nature Geoscience, we know that the rate at which we are acidifying our oceans is 10 times faster than it was the last time the oceans became uninhabitable to sea life.

A common rebuttal to skeptics of global warming, when they hear scientific proof such as this, goes something like this: Humans are capable of moving between areas with clean air and dirty air with little problem. Fish can do likewise. If only it were that simple!

The truth is that people have adaptable pulmonary capabilities because we have needed them for a very long time. Many of the aquatic species which comprise the foundation of the food chain of our oceans have changed little or not at all during the aforementioned 55 million years. When they are exposed to large swings in their environment, they die.

Why haven’t they changed? Because they have had no exposure to changes in the atmosphere! They live deep underwater, miles below the surface. Dr. Andy Ridgwell of the University of Bristol explains the problem very well.

“Unlike surface plankton dwelling in a variable habitat, organisms living deep down on the ocean floor are adapted to much more stable conditions. A rapid and severe geochemical change in their environment would make their survival precarious.”

- Dr. Andy Ridgwell

School of Geographical Sciences

University of Bristol

In closing, if ever you have wondered why I advocate so vigorously for all of us to live carbon-neutral, now you know. We are creating a crisis of even greater magnitude than the planet did to itself during periods of massive geological instability. For that, there can be no apology, merely remediation.

Fomenting the Triple Bottom Line

Corbett Kroehler

jpg credit: © Keoki Stender, Fishpics Hawaii

coral.jpg credit: © Daniel and Robbie Wisdom

February 24 2010


Pen Hadow hit polar bear with a saucepan

Explorer Pen Hadow has told how he fought off a polar bear with a saucepan.
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