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Ocean carbon sinks and returns
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Do we actually need to worry?
 

Ocean carbon sinks and returns

2008-06-16

Recently some articles appeared in the media that added a whole new aspect to the discussion of human induced climate-change and the long-term effects of our hydro-carbon-driven society.
In its consequences it may, by far, outweigh the consequences that we know by now, such as instable weather-patterns, melting ice-caps, the spreading of diseases, water-shortages, increasing extremes in storms, rising sea-levels and what may occur as a result of that, such as mass-displacement, hunger, drought and the like.

The articles describe a phenomena that has recently become more widely known and is the other side of the stick of what has been called the ocean-carbon-sinks.  This describes the effect that the oceans are absorbing vast amounts of CO2, seen as a balancing effect for the additional, human-induced CO2 in the atmosphere.

In some of the articles it was described how scientists discovered ocean-streams that were bringing water to the surface that was considerably more acid than the surrounding waters.
What now has been discovered is, that this water, that could be traced to carbon-levels of about 50 years ago, and thus related to the CO2-levels in the atmosphere during the 1950s, apparently has absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, then sank to deeper levels in the ocean and is now coming to the surface.
All this is not spectacular.

However, what then was discovered is, that the acidity of the water was impeding upon the ability of many organisms in the ocean, especially the very small and the miniscule (krill, very small crustacean), and the ones with exo-skeleton  (molluscs, clamps, sea-stars etc.) to form up their skeleton, thereby making it ever more difficult for them to grow and produce healthy off-spring.

Why this is important, is that especially the krill and the very small crustacean form the basis of the food-chain in the oceans. And therefore for the fish that eventually is consumed at mass by humans.

So what we see, is that the water-acidity that is the result of the CO2-levels of 50 years ago, is starting to seriously impact on the ability of the organisms that feeds the food that we eat, to form up their skeleton and therefore to live.
And when the acidity of 50 years ago that is now coming to the surface, is already 30 % more acid than what is/was normal, and CO2 levels since that time have gone from about 310 ppm to now about 400 ppm, we know that the water that will be coming to the surface will only become more and more acid.

So next to the over-fishing that is occurring all over the oceans and seas, we now start to see the phenomena that the fish that may be left, may start to starve, because the food that they rely upon is just not anymore there, because the environment has become so acid it cannot form up and build its skeleton.

And even if we immediately stopped increasing the CO2-levels in the atmosphere and in the oceans, the acidity still will rise for the coming 50 years, and there is nothing we can do about it.

More about this phenomena, that is quite frightening in its consequences, can be read in “Human carbon emissions make oceans corrosive” that can be found in “Features”.


Another interesting article in “Features” is “A different view of Peak Oil” that argues that reserve constraints may not be an issue at all, because of the existence of very different sources of oil, coming from the theory and experience that oil is being formed up in the deeper levels of planet Earth and still available in limitless quantities.

If we add these two together, we may start to realise that we are in for some interesting times the coming decades.

Of course there is a host of other informative and interesting articles in this Update covering the developments in the industry.

Your comments are always welcome at Alexander@gas-oil-power.com

All the best,

Alexander


 

Alexander's Commentary

Change of face - change of phase

In the period of July 20 till August 3, 2015, Alexander will be out of the office and the site will not or only irreg

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