Monday, November 22, 2010

Dangerous changes in ocean acidity - why the EPA is acting

I read an article about how the EPA is saying that states can list their coastal ocean waters as impaired because of rising ocean acidity, happening as a result of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Then I read the comments from people who attacked the EPA for stating this. There's a lot that could be said in response to the comments I found there, but there is a simple science based response. I posted a comment that noted this, for what it's worth, because increasing acidity is an enormous concern for life in the oceans, and directly for all life on earth.

Here's the article, and my comment.

This concern is based on very well established marine biology. Shell forming ocean organisms cannot form their shells if the ocean water is too acidic. Contrary to one of the comments, the need to act now is not based on needing to know what the atmospheric CO2 content was in earlier geologic eras. A basis of our knowledge is a naturally occurring region of deep water in the north Pacific that is too acidic for shell life forms. Because of this, it is a sort of "dead zone" for this life. Measurements have already shown that because of increasing ocean acidity in general, this region is expanding and getting closer to the surface. If it reaches the surface (or most likely when it reaches the surface) the ecology of large parts of the Pacific ocean will breakdown as a whole category of fundamental life forms will die. If the small life forms die, the large fish and mammals are next. These kinds of changes are ominous for all of us. And in spite of the opinion of those who posted comments, it will have nothing to do with lawyers, tax policy, Obama's knowledge of economics or anything. This will happen because of changes to the atmosphere and basic marine biology. The need to act has to do with preserving the oceans - the basis of life on earth.