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2.04.2005

Another Sign of the Time

Today, two more articles appeared which point to the problems with our Mother Earth's climate. One from the New Scientist states,

The risks of global warming are "more serious than previously thought", concluded a major international climate conference on Thursday.

"Major investment is needed now in both mitigation and adaptation," stresses the preliminary report, summarising results presented at the conference, called Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, in Exeter, UK.

The impacts of global warming discussed at the meeting sounded like a roll call of disasters. Topics ranged from the collapse of ice sheets in Antarctica to the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice caps; from droughts in Africa to floods in Japan. And fears were also raised over the rapidly changing current-patterns in acidifying ocean


The current patterns of our oceans are oh-so important to the rest of our global climate. Just as the trees are our Earth's lungs, the plankton in the oceans play a crucial role. Another article, by the Guardian, goes into more detail.

Extra carbon dioxide in the air, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is not only spurring climate change but is making the oceans more acidic - endangering the marine life that helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

...Jerry Blackford, another of the authors of a paper presented to a climate change conference in Exeter in the south-west of England, has modelled the effect on the oceans. He said: "Some scientists are saying that, in 35 years, all the coral reefs in the world could be dead - it could be less or more. Put it this way, my children may never get the opportunity to go snorkelling on a living reef. Certainly, my grandchildren won't."

Although the phenomenon is caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is not a global warming problem but a simple chemical reaction between air and sea.

Carbon dioxide mixed with water produces carbonic acid, which is making the alkaline oceans more acidic. But for probably millions of years plankton, shellfish and corals have adapted to use the stable levels of calcium and carbon in the sea to make their shells.

"Scientists did not look at this problem because everyone assumed the chemical composition of the sea was constant. But this change is elementary chemistry and we missed it," Dr Turley said.

The ocean's vital role in limiting carbon-dioxide levels in the air will have to be reassessed in light of the findings.

Plankton are as important as plants and trees in the take-up of carbon. Scientists estimate that about half the 800 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by mankind since the start of the industrial revolution has been soaked up by the sea. Much of the carbon is fixed in the shells of creatures called coccolithophores, the tiny plankton whose bodies make up southern England's white cliffs of Dover. They live on the ocean surface in trillions and when they die their shells sink to the bottom, taking the carbon with them. They could not survive in a more acidic sea and their removal of carbon from the atmosphere would stop.

"These creatures are part of our survival bubble ... They're the lungs of the planet. People have not woken up to the potential impact their removal will cause," Dr Turley said.


People very much need to WAKE UP and see the world and all the signs we are given.