Year 4, Month 9, Day 7: Thought We Said Goodbye Last Night

More on oceanic acidification, this time from the Sacramento Bee:

Making a living from the ocean is not for the faint of heart. It’s comparable to farming the soil, in that weather, disease and market conditions can make or break your bottom line. Food production, whether farming on land or in water, is dependent upon a number of factors all working in sync to produce a healthy, resilient crop. If just one factor is off, it can ruin your whole harvest.

A recently recognized threat to ocean health has the potential to do more than just inflict a bad year on shellfish producers. Ocean acidification could put us out of business permanently. Caused by activities that generate pollution from factories, cars and power plants, ocean acidification is physically changing the chemistry in the ocean. The ocean is a tremendous sponge for pollution, soaking up about 30 percent of what we put in the atmosphere. As those emissions are absorbed, it makes seawater more acidic with dire consequences to marine life, dissolving the shells of oysters, mussels and clams, and confusing behavior of fish, like salmon.

This is the “we’re all in it together” letter. Sept. 2:

Oceanic heating and acidification (two consequences of the accelerating greenhouse effect) make catastrophic declines a certainty for California’s shellfish industry. And it’s not just the West coast of the USA, but everywhere humans make their living from the sea, for the climate crisis knows no national boundaries.

Since billions of people (between a quarter and a third of Earth’s population) depend on the ocean for food, this is a humanitarian emergency. Include the likely effects of climate change on agriculture, and the gathering storm clouds are too big to ignore.

Unless, of course, you’re in a position to do something about it, like the many politicians whose myopic climate-change denialism ensures a failure to act in time to avert disaster. It’s never a good idea to bet on ignorance; when our species’ future is at stake, it’s a catastrophe in the making.

Warren Senders

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