Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘coal burning’

Terrible Ocean Headlines

Posted by feww on August 17, 2008

Even the average high school grad could have made an educated guess …

About one third of the world’s annual emissions of CO2 is absorbed by the surface of the oceans forming carbonic acid (ancient name acid of air or aerial acid), H2CO3, which is increasing the acidity of the oceans to as much as 7.7 pH in some areas off the California coast. [Pre-industrial (1700s) ocean pH: 8.179]


Ocean Acidity Kills Corals. Photo Credit: Associated Press. Image may be subject to copyright!

“We were completely surprised because people had been looking at the effect of acidification on calcified structures of marine animals, but there was no evidence to suggest it was affecting non-calcified structures, like a sperm or an egg,” lead-scientist Jane Williamson from Macquarie University told Reuters on Friday.

“It is widely believed that seawater is chemically well-buffered, but these results show that the acidification process already well underway may threaten the viability of many marine species,” Williamson said.


The sea urchins study found a link between increased ocean acidity and a reduction in fertility (Credit: ABC News). Image may be subject to copyright!

“What we have now is evidence that the world’s marine life is far more sensitive to ocean acidification than first suspected, and that means our oceans may be very different places in the not-too-distant future.”

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Up to 410 dead zones with a combined area of about 250,000km² and counting!


Summertime satellite observations of ocean color from MODIS/Aqua show highly turbid waters which may include large blooms of phytoplankton extending from the mouth of the Mississippi River all the way to the Texas coast. When these blooms die and sink to the bottom, bacterial decomposition strips oxygen from the surrounding water, creating an environment very difficult for marine life to survive in. Reds and oranges represent high concentrations of phytoplankton and river sediment. Image taken by NASA and provided courtesy of the NASA Mississippi Dead Zone web site.

No of Dead Zones

  • 1970: 40 dead zones
  • 1980: 65
  • 1990: 135
  • 2000: 305
  • 2008: 410 dead zones with a combined area of about 250,000km²

“The biggest one measures about 30,000 square miles in the Baltic Sea, the researchers said. This is followed in size by one in the Gulf of Mexico starting at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the United States and one at the mouth of China’s Yangtze River in the East China Sea.” Reuters reported.

“It’s not sort of a local or regional problem, which is how it was thought of in the past,” said Robert Diaz of the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “It is actually a global problem.”

“Most of it is agricultural-based, but there is a lot of industrial nitrogen in there, too, if you consider electric generation industrial,” added Diaz.

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350 or 450ppm? Neither, Actually!

Posted by feww on June 18, 2008

Submitted by Dione, CASF Member

What would the future be like for my daughter?

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science books
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love her

What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I know that one and one is two

What a wonderful world this would be

[From a Herman’s Hermits song, Wonderful World, lyrics by Cooke/Alpert/Adler. Lyrics may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!]

Creating A Sustainable Future (CASF) received an emotional email from a young mother, “Kay,” who wishes to remain anonymous. Kay has a 6-year-old daughter and lives with her family in NW United States. Kay says she is not high on science, “in all probability the Herman’s Hermits famous song, ‘don’t know much about history, biology, science books, geography, trigonometry, algebra, and slide rule’ was written about me!”

She says her knowledge of climatology is even poorer than her French(!) “But I do know that I love my daughter and husband and ‘what a wonderful world this would be’ if we could rein in the greenhouse gases, and reverse the global warming.”

“I have read a number of articles about CO2 pollution in the atmosphere including a few written by the famed NASA scientist, Dr J. Hansen … but he is a government scientist …”

She wants to know the safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere and asks which of the 350, 450, or higher levels of CO2 pollution would be a “safe” level, and whether our reply could be put simply so that a “layperson” could understand the answer.

Hi, Kay – thanks for visiting our blog and email!

The CASF members believe even the lower atmospheric CO2 levels of 350ppm CO2 are unsafe! Here are the reasons why. Our findings put as simply as we could:

  1. Our climate models show that when the atmospheric CO2 levels leaped over the 330ppmv “threshold” in the mid 1970s it triggered a positive feedback loop, which is now impacting the climate. [The atmospheric CO2 inventory has risen by about 17 percent since then.]
  2. The “acid test,” if you’ll excuse the pun, of the accuracy of our models lies in the future, namely how much worse the environmental impacts will be in the 2008-2010 period. If the impacts of CO2 pollution worsened significantly, by a factor of 20% or more, by 2010 (we have a system for quantifying the adverse effects, see Index of Human Impact on Nature for an introduction), as we expect them to do so, then we know our models are accurate.
  3. The catch? By 2010 it would be too late to do anything to slow down the runaway positive feedback system [other than say a prayer for the dead!]
  4. While the preindustrial levels of 260-270ppm were [and they probably still would be ] “safe,” the longer term environmental impacts of CO2 at levels of about 290-300ppm, even if those levels were achievable [assume some miraculous means were introduced to wipe the slate clean,] in the current climatic state are uncertain!
  5. Based on the above, we recommend an immediate shift to zero-emissions, the benefits of which, although by no means immediate, would far outweigh the ultimate cost of playing Russian roulette with climate change.

We hope the above helps. Feel free to visit us anytime!

Best wishes
Dione, FEWW Moderators and rest of CASF Team

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dione

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Oceans, Where Life Started, Are Dying – Part IV

Posted by feww on May 26, 2008

Wild Facts Series: Just when you thought the oceans were dying painlessly!

Carbon Emissions Make Oceans Corrosive!

‘Acidified’ Water Threatens Marine Life on the Continental Shelf from Canada to Mexico: NOAA

Researchers found evidence of corrosive water about 20 miles off the west coast of North America from Canada to Mexico last summer. The ocean water on the western North American continental shelf was previously thought not to be “acidified.”

“Ocean acidification” is caused by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, a process which makes water corrosive.


Effects of increasing carbon dioxide and temperature on coral reefs. (NOAA Coral Reef Watch)

“Acidification of the Earth’s ocean water could have far-reaching impacts on the health of our near-shore environment, and on the sustainability of ecosystems that support human populations through nourishment and jobs,” said Richard W. Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. “This research is vital to understanding the processes within the ocean, as well as the consequences of a carbon-rich atmosphere.”

“Our findings represent the first evidence that a large section of the North American continental shelf is seasonally impacted by ocean acidification,” said Feely. “This means that ocean acidification may be seriously impacting marine life on our continental shelf right now.”

“While this absorption provides a great service to humans by significantly reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and decreasing the effects of global warming, the change in the ocean chemistry affects marine life, particularly organisms with calcium carbonate shells, such as corals, mussels, mollusks, and small creatures in the early stages of the food chain,” said Feely.

NOAA said: “Previous studies found ocean acidification at deeper depths farther from shore. The researchers said that the movement of the corrosive water appears to happen during the upwhelling season during the spring and summer, when winds bring CO2 -rich water up from depths of about 400-600 feet onto the continental shelf. The water that upwells off of the North American Pacific coast has been away from the surface for about 50 years.


Typical coral-reef community observed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. [Species lables: the image to view labels: Ma, boulder star coral (Montastrea annularis); Dc, knobby brain coral (Diploria clivosa); Pa, mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides); Pp, finger coral (Porites porites); D, dead coral (probably Porites astreoides); O, octocoral (soft coral); S, sponge.] Photograph by Nathan Smiley, USGS.

The field study collected samples from Queen Charlotte Sound, Canada, to San Gregorio Baja California Sur, Mexico. The closest they found corrosive water was about four miles off of the northern California coast.”

“We did not expect to see this extent of ocean acidification until the middle to the end of the century,” said Sabine. “Because of this effort, we have a baseline for future observations as we continue to study and monitor the relationship of biological and physical processes and their ability to respond to ocean acidification.”

“We did not expect to see this extent of ocean acidification until the middle to the end of the century,” said Sabine. “Because of this effort, we have a baseline for future observations as we continue to study and monitor the relationship of biological and physical processes and their ability to respond to ocean acidification.”

“When the upwelled water was last at the surface, it was exposed to an atmosphere with much less CO2 than today and future upwelled waters will probably be more acidic than today’s because of increasing atmospheric CO2,” said Hales, a professor of chemical oceanography, who is also funded by NASA.

“We don’t know how this will affect species living in the zone below the level of the lowest tides, out to the edge of the continental shelf,” said Ianson, an oceanographer. “We do know that organisms like corals or pteropods are affected by water saturated with CO2. The impacts on other species, such as shellfish and other juvenile fish that have economic significance, are not yet fully understood.”

“In Baja California, we have several Mediterranean-climate coastal lagoons where the main external physical and biogeochemical forcing is from the neighboring coastal ocean, strongly influenced by upwelling,” said Hernandez-Ayon, a coastal oceanographer. “We are concerned about these areas because they play an important role as nurseries and feeding grounds of juvenile fish populations but are also are ideal sites for shellfish aquaculture.” More …

What is Bleaching?

Corals are very sensitive to temperature change: a 1–2º C change in local temperature above their normal summer maximum can lead to a phenomenon called ‘bleaching’, whereby the corals expel their vital algal symbionts (algae which live in the cells of the coral), leaving the coral tissues translucent.


Bleached Coral (Pocillopora) NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

In 1998, a single bleaching event led to the loss of almost 20% of the world’s living coral. Corals can recover from these events but repeated episodes are likely to weaken the coral ecosystem, making them more susceptible to disease and causing a loss of biodiversity. (Source)

How will ocean acidification affect marine life?

Corals, calcareous phytoplankton, mussels, snails, sea urchins and other marine organisms use calcium (Ca) and carbonate (CO3) in seawater to construct their calcium carbonate (CaCO3) shells or skeletons. As the pH decreases, carbonate becomes less available, which makes it more difficult for organisms to secrete CaCO3 to form their skeletal material. For animals in general, including invertebrates and some fish, CO2 accumulation and lowered pH may result in acidosis, or a build up of carbonic acid in the organism’s body fluids. This can lead to lowered immune response, metabolic depression, behavioral depression affecting physical activity and reproduction, and asphyxiation. Since the oceans have never experienced such a rapid acidification, it is not clear if ecosystems have the ability to adapt to these changes (1,2). Effects of ocean acidification on organisms and ecosystems are still poorly understood. Over the last few years, research has intensified significantly to fill the many knowledge gaps. (Source)

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The myth of keeping CO2 under 450ppm

Posted by feww on April 8, 2008

E = mc²

Therefore, CO2 ≤ 450ppm = NO Climate Change!

Yay! We can keep the CO2 under 450ppm AND stop the climate change!

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