On the trail of global warming’s equally evil twin (video)

Ken Caldeira, climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, discusses the threat of ocean acidification, the so called equally evil twin of climate change.

No Place Left from James Temple on Vimeo.

The following story accompanies the full profile of climate scientist Ken Calderia, found here.

Ocean acidification has been called the evil twin of global warming, less discussed but potentially as or more damaging.

Climate scientist Ken Caldeira helped popularized the term in a study a decade ago and recently spent time along the Great Barrier Reef attempting to measure the impact to date.

Most carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is eventually absorbed by the ocean, making the waters more acidic. In fact, ocean chemistry is changing at least 100 times more rapidly than it did during the 650,000 years before the industrial age, according to NOAA.

Rising levels of CO2 can stunt growth, undermine reproduction or simply kill marine life. It also depletes carbonate in the ocean, an ion used to build the shells and skeletons of corals and shellfish. At least a quarter of all sea life spends part of its life among coral reefs, so the ripple effects are potentially devastating.

In fact, shifts in ocean acidity led to mass extinction hundreds of millions of years ago (possibly following a devastating asteroid strike or volcanic explosion).

Caldeira discusses his concerns about the risks of ocean acidification in the SFGate video above. To learn more about his recent research on the topic, please visit the YouTube channel for the Carnegie’s Institution’s Department of Global Ecology.

SFGate, 1 June 2013. Video.

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