More bad acid, man

plankton by Sea_daddy
Climate Change – what’s worse than the heat?:
[Via Observations of a Nerd]

**A post about Climate Change as a part of Blog Action Day 2009**

When people talk about climate change, they, more often than not, talk about global warming. Yes, the effects of increased temperature will be diverse and generally bad for most creatures on Earth, including us. But the most dramatic effect of climate change won’t be due to the heat – it will be due to ocean acidification. I might seem biased (being a marine biologist and all), but trust me, the addition of carbon dioxide to the ocean and its subsequent effects will be far worse in the long run than a change in temperature. Not so sure? Let me explain.

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This is a great discussion of the science behind carbon dioxide and water. We could perhaps survive the heat but the acid could be far deadlier.

I’ve written about ocean acidification before (here, here, here, and here). This is more than just disappearing coral reefs. It is about the disruption of the ocean’s food chain from the bottom. The inability of plankton and other organisms to properly form a calcium shell has huge ramifications.

This Nature paper, from 2005, states:

In our projections, Southern Ocean surface waters will begin to become undersaturated with respect to aragonite, a metastable form of calcium carbonate, by the year 2050. By 2100, this undersaturation could extend throughout the entire Southern Ocean and into the subarctic Pacific Ocean. When live pteropods were exposed to our predicted level of undersaturation during a two-day shipboard experiment, their aragonite shells showed notable dissolution. Our findings indicate that conditions detrimental to high-latitude ecosystems could develop within decades, not centuries as suggested previously.


This is well within the lifetimes of many people alive. The ability of these organisms to properly grow and thrive will have impacts all the way up the food chain. How far is almost too scary to contemplate.

Because these organisms are a big part of the biological side of the carbon cycle. They also generate a lot of oxygen in our atmosphere. The loss of them would effect many of the normal cycles of the planet that we depend on.

We might survive but who really knows? Why take the chance?

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