Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carbon Pollution Hits Chesapeake Icons

Pollution strikes again.  We knew it was bad.  Seriously, though, recent research out of North America's Chesapeake Bay reveals another unimagined consequence of our addiction to fossil fuels.

Blue crabs jacked on carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels are eating more than their share of oysters.  It's a double punch for oysters as they face not only these voracious crabs but also struggle to form their hard shells in water made more acidic by excess carbon.

“Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster,” said Justin Baker Ries, a marine geologist, in the Washington Post.

It cuts both ways, too.  "For crab lovers, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Carbon-absorbing crabs put all their energy into upgrading shells, not flesh — like a mansion without much furniture," according to the Post article.

Also, the impact on a balanced food web and the blue crabs themselves is unclear as hungry blue crabs gobble up the slow-growing oysters faster than they can reproduce.

Interesting and a little vexing, Maryland's response is to encourage growing more oysters.  Hopefully, state officials will also see the connection between clean energy and two of their economically vital cultural icons. 

Read the full research study in the journal Geology, and whenever you have an opportunity, support sensible and sustainable clean energy.


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