Friday, December 17, 2010

Reefs are the Ocean's Canaries

Feelin Woozy
 Australian marine scientist J.E.N. Veron for Yale Environment 360 sounds the alarm.

What's refreshing about his editorial is that he acknowledges his own initial skepticism about climate change, and he puts it in the context of geological time. Whenever anyone claims current climate change is natural citing past natural extinctions in the Earth's history, they have forgotten about time. 

In the past, extinctions occured over millions of years, not the 200 plus years of the industrial revolution. It's the pace -- the rapid pace -- at which humans are heating up the climate and increasing the acidity level of the oceans that is unprecedented and destructive.

Two excerpts: A decade or so ago, we thought that mass bleaching was the most serious threat to coral reefs. How wrong we were. It is clear now that there is a much more serious crisis on the horizon — that of ocean acidification. This will not only affect coral reefs (although reefs will be hit particularly hard), but will impact all marine ecosystems. The potential consequences of ocean acidification are nothing less than catastrophic. The ultimate culprit is still CO2 but the mechanism is very different.

Reefs are the ocean's canaries and we must hear their call. This call is not just for themselves, for the other great ecosystems of the ocean stand behind reefs like a row of dominoes. If coral reefs fail, the rest will follow in rapid succession, and the Sixth Mass Extinction will be upon us — and will be of our making.

Read the full story here.

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