Archive for the ‘oceans’ Category

Deus ex Machina

April 8, 2008

I’ve been quiet for a while.  Sometimes it just gets too much and I have to step away.

The big environmental news story on MSN today is that beer drinkers might have to pay more for their brew.

I wonder how many people know that scientists were shocked to see how fast Antarctica’s Wilkens Ice sheet is breaking up.

It takes an awful lot to shock a scientist.

I wonder how many people know that “If global emissions of CO2 from human activities continue to rise on current trends then the average pH of the oceans could fall by 0.5 units (equivalent to a three fold increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions) by the year 2100. This pH is probably lower (more acidic) than has been experienced for hundreds of millennia and, critically, this rate of change is probably one hundred times greater than at any time over this period. The scale of the changes may vary regionally, which will affect the magnitude of the biological effects.” The Royal Society, Ocean Acidification Due To Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, 2005 (my ephasis)

I wonder if people know that scientists who thought that the arctic ice cap would be ice-free by 2070 are now predicting that it’ll be ice-free by 2015?

I know that there is a growing sense of unease. But I don’t think that decreasing our use of shopping bags is going to make much of a difference. It might make people feel better, but it will not deflect the load of buckshot that has already fired and is speeding toward our collective faces.

“Deus ex Machina” is a latin phrase — “God from the machine.” In Greek theater, when all was lost, God would jump out of a box and save the day.

I’m going to school, to University, and I’m surrounded by young people every day. Eating, laughing, studying, typing away on their laptops, chatting on their cell phones, they are seemingly unconcerned by their future. They talk about their future as if the world will always be as it is right now.

And it’s certainly not just the 20-somethings. I hear 40-somethings talking about their retirement funds and whether they are saving enough to support themselves when they are in their eighties.

I look around at all of this and I wonder if any of the current world governments will survive through the end of this century. I wonder if the ocean die-off will be gradual or quick. I wonder what will happen when their is no more money left for public schools, public housing and public medical care. I wonder what will happen when we face starvation in the cities.

We aren’t saving ourselves, and the hand of God or science will not sweep away the self-inflicted death-shot flying toward us that is our future.

Sometimes I have to set it aside and think about the day — getting kids to school, making dinner, walking the dog, listening to the first birds of spring, lifting my face to the late day sun. Sometimes I have to just take a deep breath and think about my own personal plan.

I wonder how many other people, these people who are seemingly unconcerned, are like me.


A Different Ocean

March 17, 2008

“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.