Year 4, Month 9, Day 21: I Always Recycle

The Seattle Times on oceanic acidification:

NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.

She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.

A year earlier, the Australian ecologist had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.

Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.

Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.

Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away.

Carbon dioxide.

One of these days somebody’s going to publish one of my Jacques Cousteau letters. September 13:

Remembering my childhood in the turbulent 60s, I can single out two faces on television who were universally regarded as truth-tellers and moral authorities. Running a close second to Walter Cronkite was Jacques Cousteau, who introduced millions of people to the profound and protean beauty of the world’s oceans. How would that tough old Frenchman respond to the IPCC’s grim report on the threat of intensifying oceanic acidification?

I’m pretty sure that (after a few volleys of Gallic profanity) he’d get right to work speaking truth to the world’s developed nations, reminding them (as he long ago told us) that “the water cycle and the life cycle are one”, and that the time is long past for the industrialized world to demonstrate genuine civic responsibility in reducing their greenhouse emissions. Acidifying ocean waters could trigger a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe of planetary dimensions; we ignore this phenomenon at our peril.

Warren Senders

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