Ocean Planet: Risky Chemistryby Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 2, 2006
It's easy to assume the oceans, covering most of the planet, are big enough to shake off any environmental damage from human activity. But, just as we are changing the climate, we are fundamentally altering the chemistry of the oceans, for the worse.
As the Seattle P-I's Tom Paulson reported last month, scientists have found the oceans are absorbing tons of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. The ocean's acidity has begun to change in the upper layers of water, which are critical to human food supplies.
As Seattle scientists at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory observe, part of the need now is for more research. But the emerging information also ought to raise alarms about the oceans' future health and the Bush administration's rosy fallback stance on greenhouse gases: Global warming is happening, but a warm spell is always nice.
For coral reefs and tiny shell-forming sea life critical to salmon and other fish, the changing ocean chemistry adds to all the other stresses they face. That's not good for endangered species, the larger environment or humans who get much of their protein from the oceans. Scratch the oceans from the shrinking list of places where the Bush administration can bunker itself away from environmental reality.
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