Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Warming Oceans and the Cloud of Death

About a year ago people fishing off the coast of Oregon began to notice a disturbing phenomenon. 

Crabs and baby octopuses climbing up their anchor ropes in a desperate attempt to escape something on the bottom of the sea.

And the explanation couldn't be more ominous.

They were suffocating to death because global warming is starting to starve the oceans of oxygen. 

It should come as no surprise that human activity is causing the world’s oceans to warm, rise and acidify. But an equally troubling impact of climate change is that it is beginning to rob the oceans of oxygen. 

Ultimately, Long told The Huffington Post, oxygen-deprived oceans may have “significant impacts on marine ecosystems” and leave some areas of ocean all but uninhabitable for certain species.

And while that is disturbing enough, there also another reason we should be concerned.

For as oxygen levels decrease, bacteria that live in the lower depths of some oceans can multiply exponentially and produce large quantities of deadly hydrogen sulphide.

Which has been blamed by some for the deadliest mass extinction ever, the so-called Permian extinction.

When a combination of volcanic activity and a warming ocean caused huge clouds of hydrogen sulphide to sweep across the land and kill 95 per cent of life on earth.

Including for the first time even insects, who had escaped other mass extinctions.

Whether that could happen again remains to be determined, but since we know less about our oceans than we know about the moon, I thought you might find this article really interesting. 

The world’s oceans, according to recent research, are rapidly becoming more stratified and less oxygen-rich. The result is that mixing between various layers of the ocean is beginning to shut down reducing oxygen content in the deep ocean and spurring the expansion of numerous oceanic dead zones.

When combined with the jarring effects of rapid ocean warming and expanding acidification, it becomes plainly obvious to almost any ocean ecologist that the world’s ocean system is suffering the heavy bombardment of a new mass extinction event.

And then if suffocating sea creatures, and the threat that we might be suffocated one day isn't enough, then there's this.

Part of the Antarctic's ice has shrunk by about 1,000 square kilometres over the last 40 years, according to a new study.

The ice loss along the Bellingshausen Sea's coast is thought to be due to warm ocean water.

Which could drown coastal communities, and even entire countries.

You know it should be obvious that if we scorch the land on our beautiful little planet, we might get away with it for a while.

Maybe we could survive drought, mass starvation, and water wars.

But the day the oceans turn against us we won't have a chance.

Will that be how humankind ends? With deadly clouds bubbling out of the sea and billions dying with the burning smell of rotten eggs in our nostrils.

And how can we stop it? When so many must share the blame for living for today and ignoring all those who will come after us.

And no, governments can't solve the problem alone, even if they wanted to, which many still don't.

Climate change is the deadliest threat to the future of our planet.

And we must ALL do more to fight it...

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Anonymous said...

Paleontologist Peter Ward suspects ocean acidification as the cause for up to five of our planet's extinction events. He sets it out in his book Under a Green Sky.

jrkrideau said...

Encouraging paper :(

On the other hand a small glimer of hope on renewable s.

Anonymous said...

I think a better term for global warming is just pollution, we must care for the environment. Whether it's the tar sands, or oil spills, deforestation, littering on the ground, factories who create too much smog whatever... Just try and help out when you can.


Simon said...

hi anon...yes I don't think people have thought enough about the impact global warming would have on the planet's oceans. I think the oceans camouflaged the growing problem by absorbing a lot of the heat, and now that they are giving it up who knows what might happen. And let's not forget that the warming of the seas is driving fish away from the Equatorial zone and within about ten years could deprive people in that zone of one of their main food sources. As I said in my post, the day the oceans turn on us will be the day the chickens really come home to roost...

Simon said...

hi jrkrideau...yes I saw that article, and read the comments from all the deniers who simply can't see the writing on the wall. The good news is that even though the Cons completely ignored it, we have quite a decent green energy sector, and with a little watering it might yet save us from disaster...

Simon said...

hi MC...well pollution is part of the problem. As a recent study showed pollution from the oil sands is being carried as far away as Ontario. But it can be controlled more easily than the green house gases, and they are our real problem, and the rest of the earth's problem. Luckily there is something we can do about it. We don't have to shutdown our oil industry because we will still need oil to make all kinds of products. And of course we still need the jobs. But if we gradually phase out the use of oil for fuelling our cars, and heating our homes etc we can develop the green industries of the future that will provide both good jobs and a cleaner environment...