[2°C is a death sentence for corals scientists agree due to ocean acidification and bleaching resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However the developed nations of the world have set 2 degrees C as the climate stabilization target not that any of them have figured out how to reach this target. It is as if the oceans don’t matter. This reflects a fundamental ignorance about life on Earth, an assumption that we can lose or seriously damage entire ecosystems without suffering any consequences.
This story shows we need to get serious about tackling emission reductions (below 2C) and preserving anything that sequesters or traps carbon because these will be tremendously valuable in a climate-changed world . — Steve
By Stephen Leahy*
COPENHAGEN, Dec 11 (IPS/TerraViva)
What would it be like if the air we breathe was 30 percent more acidic? The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic, and on their way to becoming 120 percent more acidic in 50 years at the current rates of carbon dioxide emissions.
Acidification is already affecting coral reefs, algae and plankton, the base of many marine food chains, according to a new report released here by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“In the last 10 years, the growth of coral reefs in many areas has declined 15 percent,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of the IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.
“That’s a dramatic shift,” Lundin told TerraViva.
The oceans absorb some carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, but the vast quantity being emitted – mainly from the burning of fossil fuels – has altered basic ocean chemistry, turning it sour. That’s also affecting shell-forming plankton and disrupting the growth rates of other species, Lundin said.
The stated goal of many countries to stabilise global temperatures within an increase of no more than 2.0 degrees C. is still “a death sentence for most coral reefs”, he said. The 2.0 C. target implies a level of CO2 in the atmosphere of 450 parts per million (ppm), well up from the historical average of 280 ppm. Continue reading