Thursday, August 13, 2015

No Easy Solution For Ocean Acidification

Most of the CO2 we're pouring into the atmosphere is actually getting absorbed by the oceans.  It's called ocean acidification because that's what it's doing, acidifying them.  And the consequences are very bad for carbonate sea life sea life, oysters, shrimp, clams, krill, etc.  I've discussed this issue a number of times before:

 We have an historical event showing us what happens when the CO2 concentration accelerates, the PETM boundary, the Paleoeocene-Eocene Boundary,  where 55.8 million years ago, the oceans and atmosphere were filled with greenhouse gases over a very short period of time. 

The ocean acidification at that time caused the largest loss of sea life in the history of the planet.  We are heading for something even worse.


A new study from Nature Climate Change reveals that even if we stop pouring CO2 into the atmosphere right now thus averting the worst consequences of global warming, it will not stop the damage to ocean sea life.  

Indeed, a 2010 study showed that humans are acidifying the oceans 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. 

And the bad news is

 “Our paper shows that emitting CO2 today and taking it out sometime later is not the same as never emitting it at all.” The changes in large parts of the ocean, “may be reversible on the time scale of many thousands of years, but if these changes cause extinctions they will produce changes that are not reversible.’

So our grandkids and great grandkids and their grandkids and greatgrandkids will never know about shrimp, clams, oysters.  And indirectly salmon, and even better, halibut, and sablefish, because they're at the top of a food chain that begins with krill, a carbonate shrimp-like creature.

One type of sea life that will soon dominate all life in the oceans and has no problems with acidification, is the jelly fish, which are eminently edible.  Our progeny will have to get used to eating jelly fish at their local seafood restaurant.

And this is our future whatever we do now.