Catherine King: Don't Be Shellfish
There has been a huge range of talks in the past few days. I’ve attended talks on topics ranging from the implementation of mitigation policies in Chile to a talk on satellite technology for monitoring forest growth. There is so much going on that it’s almost overwhelming having to choose between all the different events; I keep worrying I’ll have to choose between two I really want to see and make the wrong decision! Through all of this, I made it to a few great talks that really taught me a lot.
Today I attended an event in the US Pavilian where the “Acid Queen,” Carol Turley, presented about ocean acidification with others scientists and David Osbourne, who works with the UN. A few facts about ocean acidification:
· The ocean absorbs about ¼ of CO2 emissions
· The ocean acidity has gone up by 30% since the industrial revolution
· The oceans acidity is showing a strong trend of increasing with increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
The mechanism behind acidification isn’t complicated; CO2 is absorbed into the ocean and reacts with the water to create hydrogen ions (which is what determines acidity). This increases the acidity and has a lot of damaging and far reaching effects. One of the major problems is that the H+ ions react with and dissolve calcium carbonate which shellfish like oysters use to build their shells. This leaves these animals with weaker shells and higher mortality rates.
There are places all over the world (in Peru and Thailand to name a few) that have an economy based on these animals. These people are being affected directly right now. The effects of climate change are real and tangible. We all need to work together to solve this problem, ocean acidification is not only going to affect people live on the coast, it will have overarching effect that will impact us all.
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