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Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Friday Doomsday Reading

Posted by on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Grist has a long post up about how the ocean off the shore of the Pacific Northwest is becoming deadly:

It is ironic that despite relatively progressive clean energy policies the West Coast is paying an unusually high price for global carbon emissions. Ocean water off the Pacific coast has absorbed so much carbon that it is becoming acidic enough to melt the shells of sea creatures. Our national and global addiction to fossil fuel and unwillingness to seriously reduce carbon emissions is taking its toll, right here, in real time, with profound implications for the Pacific Ocean.

The oceans act like a massive sponge soaking up airborne carbon. As carbon dissolves in the ocean it forms carbonic acid. Once acidity becomes high enough the shells literally dissolve.

Due to a uniquely structured coastline and system of currents, deep, older water surfaces along the Pacific coast. This older water has been soaking up carbon for a relatively long period of time and therefore is unusually acidic.

The first economic casualty of ocean acidification is the multi-million dollar West Coast shellfish industry. Acidity levels are already high enough to hinder oyster larvae in forming shells. Some hatchery businesses have moved to Hawaii. Others are installing expensive monitoring equipment and shutting down operations when acidity is too high.

Go read the whole thing.


Comments (13) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Seems to me that this issue is far more important for us to get our collective panties in a bunch over than arguing about gun control.

Posted by Neurotic Cat on February 1, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
bhowie 2
Yeah. Civilization as we know has about 15-20 years left. Oh, but let's spend all our time talking about made-up stuff like fiscal cliffs. We get what we deserve; too bad we are taking half the species of the planet with us.
Posted by bhowie on February 1, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
chinaski 3
As soon as the Japanese finish removing all the wild fish I am out of here anyway.
Posted by chinaski on February 1, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 4
Fuck it...I've avoided owning a car for almost 12 years. At this point who give a fuck. I'm buying one and am going to drive it every fucking day.

No else cares, why should I?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 1, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 5
@4: eat drink and be merry. Or learn to live off the grid and stockpile weapons to defend your homestead. Both are fine options.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm on February 1, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 6
More doomsday from Grist (I picked a bad day to give up antidepressants): 69 foot sea level rise predicted from just the carbon and methane we've already put in the air. I guess that sea wall needs to be raised just a smidge*.

* Eventually
Posted by Matt the Engineer on February 1, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
rob! 7
@ 6 "I picked a bad day to give up antidepressants"—not sure if serious, but if so, did anyone warn you about the zaps?

For me, for the first few months, it felt like touching your tongue to a 9V battery, except on your brain, up to several times an hour. Annoying but tolerable when you know what they are and know that they will gradually diminish. But a hell of a lot of practitioners never mention them, either when you're starting or ending therapy. Be sure to quiz your doc and taper off slowly if possible.
Posted by rob! on February 1, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 8
Nah. It was a bad Airplane reference.

I can imagine the whole experience to be tough, even without side effects.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on February 1, 2013 at 3:48 PM · Report this
The fact that the environmental consequences of global climate change do not usually effect the people or regions doing the carbon emitting is the reason the problem is so hard to solve. If the deterioration of oyster beds along the west coast of the US were being caused by industry in that region steps could be taken to rectify the problem. As it is, the cause of the problem is outside the control of the people effected.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on February 1, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 10
@9: Horseshit. The root cause is the fact that the current neoliberal economic order systematically shields those responsible for environmental destruction and disenfranchises those most burdened. Look at the damage caused by mining in Montana: companies extract all the resource wealth, expatriate the profits overseas and then declare bankruptcy so that when their piles of toxic tailing are declared superfund sites, they cannot be held responsible. Or the new Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently being shepherded through congress behind closed doors, which would allow "investor-state" corporations to challenge via tribunal any domestic legislature which interferes with the "expectation of profit."
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm on February 1, 2013 at 4:26 PM · Report this
@10 According to Wikipedia the nation that is number one in carbon emissions is the People's Republic of China. I'm not sure what the philosophy of the Chinese Communist Party is, but I'm pretty sure it isn't neoliberalism. The human activities causing climate change are being driven by economic imperatives much bigger than the American political system.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on February 1, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 12
In terms of the net amount of atmospheric carbon, the vast majority has been contributed by the first world. And according to the World Bank, per capita we continue to release roughly 3x more carbon than China (17.2 vs. 5.8 metric tons)
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm on February 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM · Report this
@12 Per capita they pollute less than we do, but they have a lot more people. The point is that China is a very different society w/ a very different system of government. Yet it contributes to the problem of global warming in much the same way that we do. This would suggest that the root of the problem is not to be found in the particulars of the American political system.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on February 1, 2013 at 10:39 PM · Report this

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