Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Something new to horrify you

Great. Somehow, I think acid rain will be trumped by acid oceans:
The escalating level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the world's oceans more acidic, government and independent scientists say. They warn that, by the end of the century, the trend could decimate coral reefs and creatures that underpin the sea's food web.

Although scientists and some politicians have just begun to focus on the question of ocean acidification, they describe it as one of the most pressing environmental threats facing Earth....

A coalition of federal and university scientists is to issue a report today describing how carbon dioxide emissions are, in the words of a press release from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "dramatically altering ocean chemistry and threatening corals and other marine organisms that secrete skeletal structures."
Amusingly, the article notes that despite near-unanimity on this issue (the science is even less controversial than climate change) there are still some people willing to be whores for the coal lobby. Speaking of which, one of the great green hopes of the carbon merchants has bit the dust. Via Dave at Gristmill:
Researchers have long reported that most major crops grow faster and need less water when more carbon dioxide (CO2) is available.

It was thought that this 'fertilisation effect' might offset the negative effects on crops — such as increased temperature and reduced soil moisture — that climate change is expected to bring.

But the new study, led by Stephen Long of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, points out that these conclusions are mostly based on research done in greenhouses or controlled-environment chambers in labs and fields.
This was one of those ideas pushed by the people who'd prefer we do nothing at all to stop climate change, rather than afflict their comfort one iota. You can see the appeal: If forests are all going to soak up the extra CO2, then we don't need to worry. Of course, we aren't that lucky.

The acidification of the oceans is truly horrifing. Given what every child learns about the water cycle, this has implications for the entire global biosphere, potentially even greater than climate change. The ocean, as SF author David Brin has written, gets a veto on everything.

It makes one almost hope that the melting of Antarctica and Greenland can offset some of this stuff.

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