Great Barrier Reef Dead at 25 Million

GR: Only portions of the reef are dead now; however the rest is dying. With the level of CO2 we’ve pumped into the atmosphere, global warming including lethal ocean warming will continue. Another of those monuments to human ignorance that an alien visitor might wonder at–unless ocean acidification melts the reef before they get here.

“The Great Barrier Reef has been declared dead by scientists at 25 million years old — bringing an end to the colorful life of the world’s largest single structure of living organisms.

“The incredible Coral Sea wilderness, which stretches for roughly 1,400 miles over an area of roughly 133,00 square miles, has finally succumbed to bleaching.

“The icon of the natural world is bigger than the whole of the United Kingdom and is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

“It is home to 1,625 species of fish, 3,000 mollusks, and 30 different types of whales and dolphins.

“The reef lies off the coast of Queensland in Australia and can be seen from outer space.

“Leading environmentalist writer Rowan Jacobsen declared the incredible structure dead, and wrote: “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness.“It was 25 million years old.” (Source: Great Barrier Reef dead at 25 million | New York Post)

 

 

It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

GR:  Here’s an article that I hope at least my friends and family read. If it doesn’t worry and motivate you, then you are a victim of “willful blindness” a cognitive condition that can be either conscious or subconscious. You can recover from the subconscious condition, but it’s usually after you’ve fallen in a hole and wonder “why didn’t I see this coming.” However, you can make a conscious effort to reassess your beliefs and act to avoid the hole. And I assume that this is what’s going to happen as demonstrations like the massive climate march that just filled Pennsylvania Avenue continue to grow.

Credit: Getty/Everlite/Leon Neal/Photo Montage by Salon

“While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today. This is a worrisome fact, given that science is based not on faith and private revelation, but on observation and empirical evidence.

“Perhaps the most prominent figure with an anxious outlook on humanity’s future is Stephen Hawking. Last year, he wrote the following in a Guardian article:

Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.

“There is not a single point here that is inaccurate or hyperbolic. For example, consider that the hottest 17 years on record have all occurred since 2000, with a single exception (namely, 1998 [hottest on record to that point]), and with 2016 being the hottest ever. Although 2017 probably won’t break last year’s record, the UK’s Met Office projects that it “will still rank among the hottest years on record.” Studies also emphasize that there is a rapidly closing window for meaningful action on climate change. As the authors of one peer-reviewed paper put it [PDF paper published in Nature, Climate Change]:

The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far. Policy decisions made during this window are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.

“Furthermore, studies suggest that civilization will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than in all of human history, which stretches back some 200,000 years into the Pleistocene epoch. This is partly due to the ongoing problem of overpopulation, where Pew projects approximately 9.3 billion people living on spaceship Earth by 2050. According to the 2016 Living Planet Report, humanity needs 1.6 Earths to sustain our current rate of (over)consumption — in other words, unless something significant changes with respect to anthropogenic resource depletion, nature will force life as we know it to end.

“Along these lines, scientists largely agree that human activity has pushed the biosphere into the sixth mass extinction event in the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth. This appears to be the case even on the most optimistic assumptions about current rates of species extinctions, which may be occurring 10,000 times faster than the normal “background rate” of extinction. Other studies have found that, for example, the global population of wild vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians — has declined by a staggering 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. The biosphere is wilting in real time, and our own foolish actions are to blame.” –Phil Torres (Continue: It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon – Salon.com.)

Ocean acidification shakes the foundation of cold-water coral reefs

“The longest-ever simulation of future ocean conditions, undertaken by researchers at Heriot-Watt, shows that the skeletons of deep-sea corals change shape and become 20-30% weaker, putting oases of deep-sea biodiversity at risk.

“Because the ocean absorbs much of the extra carbon dioxide produced by human activities, the chemistry of seawater is changing, a process known as ocean acidification. The researchers, who published their findings in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, have simulated this process in the laboratory: while corals appear to feed and grow well, this hides fundamental changes in the structure of their skeletons. These changes put the whole reef structure at risk.

“Few people are aware that more than half the coral species known to science are found in deep-waters growing in chilly temperatures, and that spectacular reefs supporting a wealth of other marine life grow in the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.”  Sourced through Scoop.it from: news-oceanacidification-icc.org

GR:  Ocean warming and acidification may increase rapidly as polar ice masses melt and fresh water spreads across the surface of the heavier, saltier, oceans.  Corals do indeed appear to be doomed.

Ocean Acidification: The Complete Loss of Tropical Coral Reefs By 2050 to 2100

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 Acification Through 2050

“(Ocean acidification and related impacts to coral reefs through 2050 [500 ppm CO2].  Image source: Threat to Coral Reefs From Ocean Acidification.)”

Read more . . . .