Just a few decades left for coral reefs

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.


More like this

In the scientific community most people I know believe that global warming is a real phenomenon caused by humans starting with the industrial revolution. However, not everyone I know is in the scientific community, and many don't fully believe any notion of human-caused global warming. Well, we can…
a special guest post by John Guinotte, Marine Conservation Biology Institute The answer is uncertain as very few manipulative experiments have been conducted to test how deep-sea corals react to changes in temperature, seawater chemistry (pH), water motion (currents), and food availability. It is…
**A post about Climate Change as a part of Blog Action Day 2009**When people talk about climate change, they, more often than not, talk about global warming. Yes, the effects of increased temperature will be diverse and generally bad for most creatures on Earth, including us. But the most dramatic…
Sally-Christine Rodgers and Randy Repass do a TON for ocean conservation around the world, including supporting students and getting the right folks involved on the ground. They wrote this letter and asked a bunch of us bloggers to spread it around the Web: _______ We are both lifelong boaters.…

mandas, again your bullshit, coral reefs die/live without your mean interaction. life per se on earth has its own dynamics, independent from humans. your knowledge is by far too low to have any meaningful opinion on this subject. you better totally shut up

And you can die without our interaction, child.

But if they found a bullet hole in your body, you may be hoping they at least consider that it was Anthropogenic Dead Person.

wow, you really think you are intelligent? you don't even know that the ipcc's level of scientific understanding of clouds is low. and your level is below zero.