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Acceleration of Ocean Acidification Exceeds Most Devastating Historical Patterns

Posted Mar 17 2010 8:00am

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

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