Thursday, July 06, 2006

More CO2 in Atomosphere = More Acidic Oceans

The Seattle Times: Nation & World:

The escalating level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the world's oceans more acidic, government and independent scientists say. They warn that, by the end of the century, the trend could devastate coral reefs and creatures that underpin the sea's food web.

Although scientists and some politicians have just begun to focus on the question of ocean acidification, they describe it as one of the most pressing environmental threats facing Earth.

"It's just been an absolute time bomb that's gone off both in the scientific community and ultimately, in our public policymaking," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who received a two-hour briefing in May with five other House members. "It's another example of when you put gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, you have these results none of us would have predicted."

Thomas Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, has rewritten his new book's paperback version to highlight the threat of ocean acidification. "It's the single most profound environmental change I've learned about in my entire career," he said last week.

[ . . . ]

"Plankton and marine snails are critical to sustaining species such as salmon, redfish, mackerel and baleen whales.

'These are groups everyone depends on, and if their numbers go down, there are going to be reverberations throughout the food chain,' said John Guinotte, a marine biologist at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute. 'When I see marine snails' shells dissolving while they're alive, that's spooky to me.'"


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