Hot, Sour and Breathless
Posted on Oct 15, 2012
Today, I read an excellent article on the front page of the LA Times by Kenneth R. Weiss regarding a change in our ocean’s chemistry which I found to be alarming and definitely worth bringing to my blog followers attention. (read article from LA Times)
By the end of the century, said French biological oceanographer Jean-Pierre Gattuso, “The oceans will become hot, sour and breathless.”
The world’s oceans have become 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution began more than 200 years ago. In that time, the seas have absorbed 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide that has built up in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels (gas, oil, and coal).
Ocean acidification, once an obscure area of scientific inquiry, is quickly becoming a reality as more and more shellfish and corals die off. One of the reasons the oyster larvae are dying is that as the acid levels rise in the sea, the larvae cannot form their protective shells. The article further explained that the marine life rely on the minerals in the alkaline seawater to build their protective shells and exoskeletons.
One final note, Gretchen Hofmann, a UC Santa Barbara ecologist, has found that purple sea urchins are far better at tolerating higher acidity than are commercially grown Pacific oysters. Seafood should remain abundant, she said, if people are willing to eat sea urchin gonads, sold in sushi bars as “uni”.
I love shellfish, especially oysters! This article is further proof of our need to reduce our fossil fuel footprint drastically and save our oceans from becoming dead zones.