Many of the politicians fighting Australia’s election campaign talk about the economy and immigration but the world is listening for what they say about the impact of climate change.
If the rest of the world could vote in next month’s Australian election, there would almost certainly be one issue that would be raised to the top of the country’s political agenda: saving the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say this year 93% of its reefs experienced some bleaching, and 22% of all of the reef’s coral was killed by unusually warm waters. Unheard of just three decades ago, large-scale bleaching has become a regular occurrence. Within 20 years the conditions that drove this year’s bleaching in Australia will occur every second year. A Guardian report illustrates in vivid detail the scale of the devastation unfolding beneath the surface. Over the past 34 years the average proportion of the Great Barrier Reef exposed to temperatures where bleaching or even death is likely has increased from about 11% a year to about 27% a year.
It is a constant struggle to motivate most people most of the time about climate change. The evidence accumulates slowly; despite being an emergency, it often . . . more: The Guardian view on the Great Barrier Reef: the crisis they prefer to downplay | Opinion | The Guardian
GR: Alternative energy may reduce pollution, but it has its own problems. In the desert near me, solar farms are shading and destroying native vegetation, roads and transmission corridors are spreading habitat destruction and giving access to invasive plants. As explained in John Murawski’s article, just the wind-farm survey impacts will be significant. Construction will add more damage. So what? Well, I would like to see our leaders make some proposals for cutting our energy requirements. Otherwise, we are simply creating another major industry that will see growth and profit as far more important than protecting nature.
This map shows that the U. S. east coast is more attractive than the west.
Following article posted by John Murawski on January 22, 2015
Federal environmental officials are seeking public comment on the environmental impacts of offshore wind farm-related activity proposed for an area of some 480 square miles of Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina’s coast.
The results of the environmental assessment could determine if the U.S. Department of Interior further shrinks the ocean areas deemed suitable for offshore wind farms. The currently proposed area was slashed from 1,900 square miles last August in response to concerns about conflicts with shipping routes, marine ecology and local tourism.
The Department of Interior will hold three public meetings next month in North Carolina, and will also start a 30-day public comment period Friday.
GR: This post describes other threats to coral reefs beside increasing acidification. The story includes an opportunity for citizen naturalists to help save Caribbean reefs.
By Jensi Sartin
“Beautiful Caribbean reefs have been a tourist attraction for decades, if not centuries. They teem with life, holding an amazing variety of fantastical fish and other sea creatures. But at the current rate, Caribbean reefs will be lost within 20 years. Worse, the damage is largely the result of our own actions.
“This dire news comes from the Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, an extensive report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The report explains that the direct threats from overfishing and land-based pollution are combining dramatically with the longer term effects of climate change to destroy a vital natural resource that lies just a short flight from the United States.
“IUCN used data from 35,000 surveys conducted at 90 Caribbean locations since 1970, and showed that reefs have declined by more than 50% since the 1970s. Its stark conclusion should give us all pause and another last chance to reflect back on whether our strategies to save our reefs are still effective—or a priority.”
Read more and learn how you can take part.
GR: This post is about CO2 and ocean acidification. Other blog posts about plastic in the oceans, overfishing, garbage dumping, and toxic runoff suggest that the cost of the human impact on oceans will be far greater than the trillion dollars estimated by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Those costs are based on short-term factors. Species extinction is permanent. Recovery of biodiversity will take millennia. Some would say that causing the loss of a single species is unacceptable. So once again, I have to say that we must push harder. Sign those petitions, take time for the rallies and marches, send letters, make phone calls, join local groups, and enter local politics.
The following from Robert Scribbler.
“Ecosystems that have thrived and developed over millions of years are being smashed down by human activities in just a few decades. It is a very sad state of affairs that hopefully we can turn around before it is too late.” — Ken Caldeira of Stanford University.
“One trillion dollars. That’s the economic impact a new UN study found resulting from the world’s oceans becoming 170 percent more acidic by 2100 under an inexorable and ongoing human carbon emission.
“It’s a rapidly ramping acidity that is being driven by an ever-rising level of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. An emission that is already setting the stage for a first wave of mass extinction in the world ocean — starting now and hitting high gear once global CO2 levels reach about 500 parts per million (this year, global CO2 levels topped off at 401 parts per million and under current and planned emissions are likely to hit 500 ppm within about 30 years).
“At issue is the vulnerability of coral reefs and many other species with calcareous skeletons and shells to rapid acidification. In the deep geological past, we’ve seen mass extinctions in many of these species due to rapid rises in ocean acidity. Events such as the Permian and PETM extinctions all showed terrible losses of species due to ocean acidification alone.
“But the pace at which humans are increasing ocean acidification has never been seen before in the geological record. So the blow that is coming to many of the animals we rely on is worse than anything that happened in Earth’s past.
“(Ocean acidification and related impacts to coral reefs through 2050 [500 ppm CO2]. Image source: Threat to Coral Reefs From Ocean Acidification.)”
Read more . . . .
As pointed out before, CO2 emissions do more than affect the atmosphere.
Drawing from NOAA PMEL Carbon Program
“When seawater absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2), chemical reactions cut seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with calcium carbonate minerals. This means there are abundant building blocks for organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become unsaturated and some organisms will have difficulty producing and maintaining their shells” (NOAA).
“The skeleton hand of ocean acidification has been found at work near one of Australia’s most exotic tropical destinations, Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Scientists surveying a reef flat just south of the resort island, off Cooktown, have measured a near 40 per cent calcium carbonate decline.”
Read more at “The Age.”