Senate must pass climate bill to save the oceans (audio)

Imagine a day in the not-so-distant future when you can’t find seashells and sand dollars on Florida’s beaches. Crabs and shrimp are gone, and the fish that feed on them. The U.S. House narrowly passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the nation’s first comprehensive legislation to reduce global warming pollution. Now, the Senate must act.

Rarely mentioned in today’s climate discussions is ocean acidification, referred to as the sleeping giant of climate change. As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide emitted by our use of coal, oil and gas, its pH balance is seriously altered. Since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has become 30 percent more acidic. This change is three times greater and 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced during the last 21 million years.

Florida Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux can champion passage of a strong climate bill. If we fail to act, many familiar animals such as oysters, clams, sea stars, sand dollars and corals may not have the right pH balance to develop or produce their shells. Shrimp, crabs, lobster and many other invertebrates whose shells are made of chitin but fortified with calcium are also in jeopardy. So are many species of plankton at the base of the marine food chain.

The collapse of marine mammal, sea turtle and sea and shore bird populations would affect approximately 520 million people – 8 percent of the world’s population – who depend on fisheries and aquaculture as a source of protein, income or family stability. Florida’s oceans, coral reefs, wildlife and economy cannot afford to wait for climate solutions, and neither should our nation.

Andrew Stamper (Aquatic Veterinarian), Palm Beach Post, 30 October 2009. Full article.

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