Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Changing Oceans

Ocean Acidification gained national attention at a US Senate hearing on Tuesday. One of many challenges confronting our oceans, increasing acidity of saltwater threatens the health of calcifying species that provide habitat and form the base of the marine food web. Science supports that increasing levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean is behind this problem. In essence, as our ocean works to protect us from greenhouse gasses, she is slowly suffering herself. And like the stoic old woman, it is hard to see this problem on the surface. However, under microscopes, scientists are finding that, among other things, documented changes in the water are causing tiny crustaceans, corals, and Pacific oysters to lose structural integrity. Not surprisingly, one of the most vocal communities on Ocean Acidification are shellfish growers. If the science is correct, then the shellfish industry will be a lot less lucrative. Other potential impacts are that reef breaks will start to break down and juvenile salmon will have less to eat.

The Senate hearing was unfortunately clouded by sad irony. Simultaneously in another hearing, US Senators were voting to increase offshore oil drilling. Senator Cantwell coined it perfectly, “it’s crazy they are discussing more drilling.”

Yesterday's Olympian offers good coverage on the hearing.
And if you have a moment, check out the following blogs:

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