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Marine Scientists report: Ocean Acidification Accelerating; Severe Damages Imminent

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
Marine Scientists who met in Monaco in October 2008 have released a strong statement on January 30 about ocean acidification accelerating due to increasing carbon emissions caused by human induced climate change. The Declaration calls on Governments to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.

Over 150 marine scientists from 26 countries signed the Monaco declaration (Download PDF) warning that "Ocean acidification could affect marine food webs and lead to substantial changes in commercial fish stocks, threatening protein supply and food security for millions of people as well as the multi-billion dollar fishing industry."

“The chemistry is so fundamental and changes so rapid and severe that impacts on organisms appear unavoidable.” said James Orr of the Marine Environment Laboratories (MEL-IAEA) and chairman of the symposium. “The questions are now how bad will it be and how soon will it happen."

The Declaration urges Governments to "prevent severe damages from ocean acidification by developing ambitious, urgent plans to cut emissions drastically", as well as for Governments to improve communications with scientists between scientists and economists. The Declaration urges promotion of further research in this field.

"The Ocean in a High-CO2 World" symposium held in Monaco is a forum held once every 4 years providing marine scientists an opportunity for a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of ocean acidification and its impact.

Prince Albert II of Monaco has urged political leaders to heed the Monaco Declaration as they prepare for climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year.

While the deadly loss of life in the 2009 Bush fires in Victoria is generating calls for the Australian Government to increase carbon emission reduction, the loss of pteropods in the Southern Ocean will riple through the marine food chain and have a devastating effect on marine biodiversity and marine food production.

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Sadly the admonition to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions is not going to be enough to help the oceans. The hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 already belched into the air where it has a residence time of more than a century is impacting now upon the oceans. Even if we don't emit even another single molecule of CO2 that carbon bomb now airborne will continue to acidify and deny vital mineral micro-nutrients to the oceans for another century and more. It is tragically past time when emission reduction, as helpful as it might be with regard to the glacially paced climate change, might save the oceans. The only means to preserve, protect, and restore the oceans is to replenish the denied vital mineral micronutrients, esp. iron, and in doing so accomplish eco-restoration of ocean plant life, the phyto-plankton.

Since the early eighties when we sent satellites aloft to give us eyes and data gathering ability for the global oceans we've seen and measured a cataclysmic decline in ocean plant life that dwarfs the loss of terrestrial plants including the rainforests. The Southern Ocean has lost more than 10% of its plant life, the N. Atlantic 17%, the N. Pacific 26%, and the sub-tropical tropical oceans 50%. Those verdant plankton blooms that are no more were annually converting 4-5 billion tonnes of CO2 into ocean life instead of today where it creates acidic ocean death. The most recent reports on this crisis of that carbon bomb are that the Southern Ocean is now seen to be saturated with CO2 and according to the Australian Acad. of Science will be over the deadly tipping point not at the end of this century as some miscalculated but by 2030... that is a mere 21 years from now. The American Acad of Science reports that the N. Pacific is acidifying at a rate more than 20 times faster than predicted based on a fantasitically detailed study over the past eight years with 25000 data sets. The results of their study also showed the hardiest of ocean life barncles and mussels are being wiped out by the acidification.

So while it may 'feel good' to admonish us all to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions unscrewing another energy wasting light bulb or buying a hybrid car won't un screw the largest ecosystem on this blue planet, our oceans, this simply will be too little too late no matter how much we reduce emissions. We must act to restore the ocean ecosystem and we must be successful in a mere 21 years. The result of our failure will be that as we struggle in the future with the effect of climate change and sea level rising we'll not be able to muse over new beachfront and a living sea but rather will be retreating as far as we can away from new shorelines around a fetid dead sea of only bacteria and slime.

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