Further to my mention of Ken Caldiera’s recent Scientific American article “The Great Climate Experiment” the other day, I wanted to call attention to this passages as well:
the vast oceans resist change, but change they will. At no time in Earth’s past—with the possible exception of mass-extinction events—has ocean chemistry changed as much and as rapidly as scientists expect it to over the coming decades. When CO2 enters the oceans, it reacts with seawater to become carbonic acid. In high enough concentrations, this carbonic acid can cause the shells and skeletons of many marine organisms to dissolve—particularly those made of a soluble form of calcium carbonate known as aragonite.
Scientists estimate that more than a quarter of all marine species spend part of their lives in coral reefs. Coral skeletons are made of aragonite. Even if chemical conditions do not deteriorate to the point where shells dissolve, acidification can make it more difficult for these organisms to build them. In just a few decades there will be no place left in the ocean with the kind of chemistry that has supported coral-reef growth in the geologic past. It is not known how many of these coral-dependent species will disappear along with the reefs.
I have written about ocean acidification here in the past, and not much has changed since then. It is still an under-discussed and truly calamitous prospect. Its under-discussed nature is even more undeserved given the increase in talk of geoengineering “solutions” to climate change, solutions that mostly ignore the carbon accumulating in the oceans. I am also reminded of Jennifer Marohasey’s old blog and how she mixed posts on her love of scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef in with her climate science denialism. I really have a hard time reconciling that kind of thing from someone pretending to disbelieve the science. Is it just “IBGYBG” at a global and millennial scale?
Anyway, what struck me in this passage is the time frame Dr. Caldiera states, “just a few decades” and the certainty with which he states it. There are no qualifiers to be seen and given the caution he has exercised in his predictive assertions elsewhere in the article I am inclined to think he means it that way.
That is not that far into the future. What a loss we are inflicting on the planet and our own future.