Big seas, big trouble? (video)

Scientists Rush to Understand the Perils of Ocean Acidification

There is a new boogeyman haunting our future and the Mother Earth our children will inherit. Odorless and undetectable to the naked eye, this potential scourge has the oceans — and the various critters that live there — in its sights, with tidal waves of possible side-effects threatening to crash into ecosystems and disrupt the economy of coastal communities around the world. The beast is called ocean acidification, and it is as serious as a heart attack.

Feeling the fallout from our nearly three-century-long carbon-crazed energy binge, the oceans — which are the unsung heroes of the carbon-exchange dance that help make life possible on this planet — are having to absorb CO2 emissions raining down from the atmosphere far beyond the scope of what nature can handle. As UCSB professor and renowned ocean-acidification researcher Dr. Gretchen Hofmann said recently, “It is an interesting time to be a scientist. Basically, we are studying a developing disaster.”

But before you hopelessly throw your hands in the air or pull an ostrich under the weight of climate change’s evil twin, know that there is help on the way. Researchers the world over are scrambling to better understand the fast emerging phenomenon, and governments are hustling to facilitate funding (the U.S. Senate is holding talks on the subject this week). In fact, thanks to people like Hofmann and the young scientists working out of her UCSB-based laboratory, the various stakeholders of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC), and the folks from the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), work being done right here in Santa Barbara is on the leading edge to both understanding and combating ocean acidification before it is too late.

Ethan Stewart, Santa Barbara Independent, 22 April 2010. Full article and video.

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