With each passing day and each new bit of calamitous news that greets my senses like pepper spray, I become more and more convinced that George W. Bush is a latter-day Nero, fiddling away while the world falls into ruin. I would almost find it entertaining, were the man not so completely out of tune and the consequences not so dire. Itâ€™s one thing to fiddle about while your house is burning down around you; itâ€™s quite another to do so while the whole neighborhood is aflame. But perhaps Mr. Bush, man of faith that he is, simply aims to hasten the Apocalypse, in anticipation that he and his followers will receive deliverance on judgment day. (If that is the case, they better keep plenty of coins handy to give Charon for the crossing.) Regardless of the Presidentâ€™s intentions, he needs to be reminded that we all still reside on this earthly plane and that he has an obligation to do right by it. That includes addressing the issue of carbon dioxide emissions, whichâ€”as scientists have been telling us for many years nowâ€”are causing global warming. These emissions also represent a threat to ocean life, as reported yesterday by Jonathan Leake in The Sunday Times (UK):
Acid Seas Kill Off Coral Reefs
The worldâ€™s coral reefs could disappear within a few decades along with hundreds of species of plankton and shellfish, according to new studies into manâ€™s impact on the oceans.
Researchers have found that carbon dioxide, the gas already blamed for causing global warming, is also raising the acid levels in the sea. The shells of coral and other marine life dissolve in acid. The process is happening so fast that many such species, including coral, crabs, oysters and mussels, may become unable to build and repair their shells and will die out, say the researchers.
â€œIncreased carbon dioxide emissions are making the worldâ€™s oceans more acidic and could cause a mass extinction of marine life similar to the one that occurred on land when the dinosaurs disappeared,â€? said Professor Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institutionâ€™s global ecology department.
When CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels dissolves in the ocean, it forms carbonic acid. A little of this can benefit marine life by providing carbonate ions â€” a vital constituent in the biochemical process by which sea creatures such as corals and mollusks build their shells.
Caldeira found, however, that the huge volumes of carbon dioxide being released by humans are dissolving into the oceans so fast that sea creatures can no longer absorb it. Consequently, the levels of carbonic acid are rising and the oceans are â€œturning sour.â€? more…
My stomach is turning sour, as well. Mr. Bush, please put down the fiddle, pick up a pen, and sign off on the Kyoto Protocol. Regardless of what your political advisors or Michael Crichton or the voices in your head would have you believe, carbon dioxide emissions represent a real danger (as opposed to the concocted danger posed by pre-war Iraq). If you donâ€™t believe me, then listen to your own scientists, like NASA climatologist James Hansen. Itâ€™s not too late. If you can hear me over that infernal fiddling, itâ€™s not too late!