Sometimes the news just gets really depressing to read, even when its information you already know. This quite-excellent article from Al Jazeera certainly qualifies. Some excerpts:
"From a climate change/fisheries/pollution/habitat destruction point of view, our nightmare is here, it's the world we live in."
This bleak statement about the current status of the world's oceans comes from Dr Wallace J Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Al Jazeera asked Dr Nichols, along with several other ocean experts, how they see the effects climate change, pollution and seafood harvesting are having on the oceans.
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In March 1958, when high-precision monitoring began, atmospheric CO2 was 315.71 parts per million (ppm). Today, atmospheric CO2 is approaching 390 ppm.
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The Zoological Society of London reported in July 2009 that "360 is now known to be the level at which coral reefs cease to be viable in the long run."
In September 2009 Nature magazine stated that atmospheric CO2 levels above 350 ppm "threaten the ecological life-support systems" of the planet and "challenge the viability of contemporary human societies."
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At a 2008 academic conference Exeter University scientist Kevin Anderson showed slides and graphs "representing the fumes that belch from chimneys, exhausts and jet engines, that should have bent in a rapid curve towards the ground, were heading for the ceiling instead".
He concluded it was "improbable" that we would be able to stop short of 650 ppm, even if rich countries adopted "draconian emissions reductions within a decade".
That number, should it come to pass, would mean that global average temperatures would increase five times as much as previous models predicted.
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Historically, oceans have been chemically constant, but less than 10 years ago oceanographers were shocked when researchers noticed the seas were acidifying - 30 per cent more acidic - as they absorbed more of the carbon dioxide humans have emitted into the atmosphere, a process that Britain's Royal Society has described as "essentially irreversible."
The oceans are already more acidic than they have been at any time in the last 800,000 years. At current rates, by 2050 it will be more corrosive than they have been in the past 20 million years.
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In this kind of environment, shellfish cannot produce thick enough shells. By 2009, the Pacific oyster industry was reporting 80 per cent mortality for oyster larvae due to the corrosive nature of the water.
"Acidification has the potential to change food security around the world, so I think it's incumbent upon the entire world to recognise this and deal with it," Cooley told Al Jazeera.
Lovely no? And that�s before it starts taking about the other effects of pollution and overfishing on the ocean�s species, including those that we depend on for a not-insignificant portion of our food supply.
Now add to that this story, �Worst extinction ever linked to massive CO2 spill�
Scientists finally know the date � and hence the likely cause � of a massive extinction that wiped out 95 per cent of life in the oceans and 70 per cent of life on land more than 200 million years ago.
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The precise timing coincides with a huge outpouring of carbon dioxide and methane from volcanic lava flows in northwest Asia known as the Siberian traps.
"That led to cascading effect � global warming, aridity in various areas, giant wildfires, acidification of the ocean," said Charles Henderson, a geosciences professor at the University of Calgary who co-authored the paper with a large international team.
"All of these things led to a very inhospitable world."
It would be nice if we learned something from that history, but I noticed one other point that will likely mean this information won�t matter all that much either.
Most affected species met their demise within 20,000 years � a blink of an eye on the geological timescale.
A blink of an eye on the geological timescale (for those of us that accept the world�s more than 6,000 year old), but still a lot longer than those next quarterly profit reports are due, so likely it�ll be business as usual until it�s too late to do anything about the extinction level event we�re causing to the planet�s species, with our own species included.