Why Waxman-Markey matters to the oceans

The sprawling Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill is headed to the full House and could be voted on as early as late June. The bill’s passage would signal real progress in the fight against climate change, but it would also be a vital step in preventing global warming’s terrifying cousin: ocean acidification.

As we speak, carbon emissions are changing the ocean’s chemistry. Here’s a quick ocean acidification primer: the oceans absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which reacts with sea water to produce carbonic acid, reducing the amount of available calcium carbonate that corals and marine life such as crabs, lobsters, clams and oysters depend on to produce their skeletons and shells.

Marine scientists agree that under a business-as-usual scenario, ocean acidification will be devastating for coral reefs within the next 50 years. If we don’t get serious climate legislation passed very soon, by 2050 there could be no coral reefs developing anywhere in the world. No joke.

Keith Addis, The Huffington Post, 9 June 2009. Full article.

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