The increasing acidity of the world’s oceans – and that acidity’s growing threat to marine species – are definitive proof that the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is causing climate change is also negatively affecting the marine environment, says world-renowned Antarctic marine biologist Jim McClintock, Ph.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Biology.
“The oceans are a sink for the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere,” says McClintock, who has spent more than two decades researching the marine species off the coast of Antarctica. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by oceans, and through a chemical process hydrogen ions are released to make seawater more acidic.
“Existing data points to consistently increasing oceanic acidity, and that is a direct result of increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere; it is incontrovertible,” McClintock says. “The ramifications for many of the organisms that call the water home are profound…”
“There is no existing data that I am aware of that can be used to debate the trend of increasing ocean acidification,” he says.
McClintock and three co-authors collected and reviewed the most recent data on ocean acidification at high latitudes for an article in the December 2009 issue of Oceanography magazine, a special issue that focuses on ocean acidification worldwide. McClintock also recently published research that revealed barnacles grown under acidified seawater conditions produce weaker adult shells…
“So many fundamental biological processes can be influenced by ocean acidification, and the change in the oceans’ makeup in regions such as Antarctica are projected to occur over a time period measured in decades,” McClintock says.
“Evolution simply may be unable to keep up, because it typically takes marine organisms longer periods, hundreds or even thousands of years to naturally adapt,” he says. “But ocean acidification is simply happening too quickly for many species to survive unless we reverse the trend of increasing anthropogenically generated carbon dioxide that is in large part driving climate change.”
The pundits and professional skeptics infesting the body politic not only haven’t contradictory studies to offer – they don’t care to. Protecting the global fossil fuel industries, providing support for reactionary politics in general, building a political scarecrow that fondles the range of fools from flat-earthers to birthers, the agitprop of anti-science dare not suggest anyone actually study science or participate in peer review.
Fortunately, the overwhelming population of scientists, researchers, students continues the essential task of science – the search for knowledge. Motivation to resolve questions continues apace. The itch of curiosity still has to be scratched by experiment and study. Philistines, in fact, will generally be ignored.