'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go...
Jul 24, 2015
Bishop Hill


Just in case you thought things were getting better....The Internationalist knows the end of the world is nigher than ever.

Of the many catastrophic consequences of climate change, ocean acidification may be the worst. The oceans, which cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe. They are also the planet’s biggest carbon sink—absorbing 50 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately, absorbing all that carbon is dramatically altering the ocean’s pH balance. Since the industrial revolution began, average acidity of the upper ocean has jumped 30 percent. The ocean is now more acidic than it has been for fifty million years. Unless CO2 emissions decline, ocean acidity could surge another 100 percent by the end of the century.

This slow-motion disaster threatens the survival of ocean life. Acidification is already stressing shellfish, corals, and plankton whose shells or skeletons are made of calcium carbonate. If these small creatures disappear, ocean food webs will collapse. Simultaneously, the sea temperatures are rising, as the ocean stores 90 percent of the energy from the warming Earth. Over the past century, the mean ocean surface temperature has increased 0.7 degrees Celsius. By 2100, it will rise another 3 degrees. Meanwhile, several hundred “dead zones”—areas with insufficient oxygen to support marine life—have emerged throughout the world.

This triple whammy —ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation—is placing unprecedented stress on species. Microbes, plankton, corals, mollusks, fish, and marine mammals are struggling to adapt to new ocean biochemistry, ecosystems, food webs, currents, and circulation. Unless humanity reverses course, the predicted “Sixth Extinction” will unfold not only on land, but in the sea

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