Our sick seas

Scientists are documenting drastic, disturbing changes in the oceans

Even if you think you understand what humanity faces in the enormous challenge that is climate change, reading Alanna Mitchell’s new book Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis will make you realize how little humans understand about our impact on the planet.

Large swaths of the planet’s population now accept — after years of warning by scientists — that the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal is pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and slowly raising the Earth’s temperature. On land, we are already feeling the impacts of global warming: rising sea levels, melting glaciers and disappearing species.

That’s nothing compared to what’s going on in the water.

The ocean, which covers three quarters of the planet, is sick. And it’s not just a head cold, Mitchell suggests.

The ocean absorbs one-third of the extra carbon we’re putting into the atmosphere, and that’s changing the water’s pH level, making it more acidic. Water temperature is rising. Increasing amounts of fresh water — from melting glaciers — are affecting the ocean’s salinity.

Monique Beaudin, Ottawa Citizen, 5 April 2009. Full article.


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