A Different Ocean

“Estimates of future atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide concentrations, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change CO2 emission scenarios and general circulation models, indicate that by the middle of this century atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could reach more than 500 parts per million, and near the end of the century they could be over 800 ppm.  This would result in a surface water pH decrease of approximately 0.4 pH units as the ocean becomes more acidic, and the carbonate ion concentration would decrease almost 50 percent by the end of the century (Orr et al., 2005).

To put this in historical perspective, this surface ocean pH decrease would result in a pH that is lower than it has been for more than 20 million years (Feely et al., 2004).”

Written Testimony of Richard A. Feely, Ph.D.,Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce Hearing on Effects of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification on Living Marine Resources, Before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, United States Senate, May 10, 2007

The prediction of the world’s oceans in 2100?  Dead, crumbling coral reefs and more slimy rocks, a different mix of plankton and fewer fish.  And this prediction is only when taking acidification into the scenario.  Additionally, melting glaciers will decrease salinity and ocean temperatures will rise, further stressing marine life.

 What does this mean to the average American?  I mean, who eats that much fish anyway?

According to the United Nations, one in every five humans depends on fish as the primary source of protein.  The ability of the ocean to produce fish is of vital importance to an estimated 200 million people worldwide as they depend upon the ocean for jobs and for food. (United Nations, 2004)

With Gaia, it’s not just one thing; it’s never just one thing. It’s an interconnected web of life, and baby, we’re unraveling it.


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