Last year, humanity’s output of carbon dioxide rose by 3 percent, reaching a rate of 2.4 million pounds per second. There is an angle to this datum to annoy just about everyone.
Suppose you’re a conservative who doesn’t believe in all that global-warmist malarkey. You’ve read about Climategate scientists trying to “hide the decline,” you don’t trust computer models and you think Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” is a fraud. You’re not convinced the planet is warming, doubt people have anything to do with it, and frankly don’t care much if they do.
So, OK. For argument’s sake, let’s take global warming off the table. You still should care about CO2 emissions for another reason: ocean acidification. The oceans absorb a quarter to a third of the carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere, because carbon dioxide is soluble in water (hence, carbonated beverages). The CO2 reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid. The more carbon dioxide in the air, the more acidic the oceans.
The oceans are now roughly 30 percent more acidic than in the pre-industrial era. And unlike future climate change, the effects are already apparent. Just head down to the Tidewater area of Virginia or out to coastal Oregon and talk to the folks who raise shellfish.
Four years ago the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Tillamook, Ore., lost millions of oyster larvae. The company found the problem was, yep, the overly acidic ocean water it was pumping in. Now it treats the water when the pH balance falls too far. “For us, the only thing that is correlated with mortality is the CO2 level,” said owner Sue Cudd. She was talking to the magazine Seafood Business, not some Soros-funded outfit cranking out leftist agitprop. If current trends continue, by century’s end the oceans could be twice as acidic as they are now. Ocean acidification matters, says Shallin Busch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, because of “the fish we eat and the things we make money off of.”
Read more at Reason.com. By A. Barton Hinkle.