Climate Change Can Reduce the Air We Have to Breathe
Climate Change is real and it will affect all of our grandchildren's lives, and not just higher temperatures or sea level rise.
A little known but more serious effect of sending increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere (from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, etc.) is its effect on ocean acidity levels.
Not only does CO2 result in destruction of the ozone layer which protects us from the Sun's harmful rays and shields the Earth from the effects of Global Warming (which is producing clearly more serious weather events such as Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, melting polar ice sheets, as well as producing extreme droughts in our mid-West and widespread forest fires such as those plagueing Russia, etc), but as CO2 returns to Earth, particularly as it falls to the sea, it causes an increase in the ocean's acidity.
Microscopic plants (such as diatoms) in the world's oceans produce 70% of the oxygen we humans depend upon. These plants are encased in silica shells. Silica is disolved in an acidic environment. Clams, oysters, mussels, and coral are dependent on producing shells made of calcium carbonate which is also dissolved in an acidic environment. Copepods, shrimp, krill, lobsters, stone crabs, etc. also produce shells that can be dissolved or just not formed in an acidic environment. These animals depend on the plant life of the ocean (diatoms and other floating phytoplankton) and together form the base of ocean's food web. All will be affected by increased ocean acidity.
But the biggest concern is with the ocean's microscopic plants on whom humankind depends for the air we breathe. If these plants (and animals at the base of the marine food chain) are already near their tolerance limits, as scientists are starting to learn particularly producing widespread coral bleeching (due also to temperature elevation associated with Global Warming as well as predation by crown of thorn starfish, man-caused nutrient overloading in coastal runoff, etc.), then how soon will we be cutting into the natural system's ability to continue to produce enough oxygen for the world to breathe?
Wouldn't it be nice if some thought were given to this little problem before it's too late.
Last edited by BigMarineFish.com; 11-06-12 at 10:16 AM.
Reason: spelling correction