Posting in Energy
A film screened in Copenhagen this week explores the dangers of ocean acidification.
Award-winning environmental filmmaker Barbara Ettinger’s latest documentary is about a topic so obscure that even some COP15 attendees haven’t heard of it: ocean acidification. But it’s also a topic of critical importance that threatens human survival. The film, A Sea Change, follows Ettinger’s husband, Sven Huseby (the co-producer of the film and a retired history teacher) in his quest to discover what’s happening to the world’s oceans. He finds that global warming is just part of the problem.
This week, Ettinger and Huseby are at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, screening their film and talking to policy-makers and scientists from around the globe. I talked to Ettinger Monday after their first screening. The film will be screened again on December 14 for the conference’s Oceans Day.
A Sea Change is about ocean acidification. What is it?
It’s a fairly straightforward phenomena. It occurs when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere combines with saltwater to form carbonic acid, which is essentially the bubbles you see in Coca-Cola. In the ocean, the carbonic acid makes it difficult for calcium carbonate to form, and calcium carbonate is essential for shellfish to form their shells. We looked at pteropods, snail-like creatures at the bottom of the food web that are extremely vulnerable to not being able to form a shell. It’s the primary food source for juvenile salmon and many other fish. This threatens the entire food chain.
You just had your first screening for A Sea Change in Copenhagen. How did it go?
The screening was 45 minutes ago, and it went very well. We had a mixed audience—people from all over the world. People asked some excellent questions, such as, “Why didn’t we know about this before?”
So… why didn’t we know about this before?
Scientists didn’t know about this until 20 years ago. They knew that the oceans sucked up the CO2, but they didn’t know that there was a limited ability of the oceans to do so. Once scientists realized there might be a problem, things unfortunately moved very slowly. It wasn't until the last six or seven years that it became obvious this was an urgent issue that needed immediate attention and research. And that’s where we stepped in, about three years ago, to make the film.
How did you come across ocean acidification?
My husband and I had just finished working on another documentary and were ready to take a break. We read Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker article The Darkening Sea in 2006--the first major article describing ocean acidification--and were appalled and shocked. We immediately got on our computer and Googled “ocean acidification,” and only six citations came up [today there are 311,000]. We just looked at each other and thought, “We have to do something.”
Do you already see this affecting our marine life?
We know the acidic water is corrosive to shells of oysters in the Pacific Northwest, so they are not able to grow up to fully formed shellfish. There are also places where there are fewer salmon, and it’s possible that this is because they’re not able to find their normal food sources. The important point is that warming, pollution and acidification come together in a "perfect storm" of damage to marine organisms.
Do we exacerbate the problem by eating fish?
Not eating fish won’t really help this condition. The only thing that will change the outcome is cutting back on carbon dioxide, and it’s an outcome that will start showing more evidence in 20 to 50 years. We don’t want it to get to a point where it’s completely irreversible. Marine creatures have been adapting for a million years, but they can’t keep up with this current rate of change. If we cut our carbon dioxide emissions back drastically, it’s possible the marine life can adapt and survive.
What point do you want to get across in Copenhagen?
It’s clear that even here, ocean acidification is not that well known yet. It’s always a shock when we recognize how much more work there is to be done. Ours is the first film about ocean acidification, and our goal now is to drum up political support for putting oceans on the agenda. The single reason that ocean acidification exists is carbon dioxide. It’s not complicated. Currently, we are putting 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day into our oceans--that's 30 percent of what we're putting into our atmosphere. On our website, there’s an action tab—some actions will take one minute (signing a petition), some will take 10 minutes, some will take a day. But in general, simple conservation methods are critical—unplug unused appliances, get a hybrid, change light bulbs, support alternative energy. There are so many things we can do that make a difference.
Dec 8, 2009
i get so sick of hearing the tired rhetoric of idiots that know nothing about science saying that mankind isn't responsible for the CO2 emissions and that the total contribution is soo low and its really just the sun and we're really in a coooling phase. do any of you idiots actually have ANY education in science???? anybody with basic quantum can tell you that the band gap of Co2 is right in the infrared band... anybody who has had ANY thermal statistics will be able to show you how this will increase the mean temperature of the earth. I have built cosmic ray detectors and I have reviewed the solar data... nope its not the sun. Also not the volcanoes. Guess what dingbats!!! the fossil fues... for any idiot out there that wold like to contest this... ask yourself a simple question .... where is the co2 going... if your burning gas... the co2 HAS GOT to go somewhere... and its not going back in the ground.
Has this guy ever heard of methane hydrates? Hundreds of trillions of tons of this stuff is on the bottom of the oceans across the planet. Earthquakes can trigger massive releases of bubbles of methane which any good scientist will tell you is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane hydrate gas releases can be so massive the sinking of ships has been blamed on them. Testing has shown the largest of supertankers or aircraft carriers can be sunk by being over one of these natural releases of greenhouse gases. The amount of manmade CO2 getting into the ocean via wave action agitation is minimal compared to the green house gases released from the global disposition of these hydrates. When their global warming data is proven to be falsified the green police will turn to anything calling itself science if it supports getting CO2 out of the air. It's not about saving mankind from global warming or acid filled seas. All they want to do is make money selling carbon credits. They don't care one bit about cleaning the air. They just want an excuse to get people to pay for the right to emit carbon. They will eventually try to require all of mankind to filter the CO2 we exhale or else pay a tax just to breath. Mark my words.
THe Most Obnoxious Co2 in Cigarette Smoke . Smokers should be prohibited to smoke be in presence of nonSmokers /coworkers in company Vehicles at all times .RJR Nabisco should purchase City property and grow a lushes Greenery to ofset all the Co2 the create on a daily/ hourly basis with about 40% revenue and the rest should go to healthcare for the failure to alert FDA what changes the make and made to there formulas of addiction creating putrid habits of uneducated public of all ages
A saturation vapor pressure exists between atmosphere and liquid interface. This has a dynamic equilibrium that can be chemically analyzed and characterized over time. One character of the equilibrium is that warmer liquid temperatures reduce the dissolved gas content in the liquid. The molecules are expelled, absorbed, carried between the interface and throughout the water column. Another character is the volume of gas molecules involved that are in the atmosphere, water, and boundary layer. Using those characters can help understand the mechanisms that establish a dynamic relationship between the atmosphere and the water where gas is exchanged. That can be understood, although helpfully with some prior experience with lab demonstrations and fundamental knowledge of the mechanisms, using reasoning as a means of asserting the relationship. Applying some logical reasoning has to be used for the sake of mathematical simplification. Let's cut to a possibility in the present scenario. Should the atmosphere become warmer compared to the liquid then the liquid is still relatively cooler and could allow an influx of gas; this is still a dynamic interface and any equilibrium must be qualified with the appropriate quantity of time per observation period. Scientifically rational so let's test. The article also mentions other factors affecting the situation too. The respiration process, decay, pollution sources, and eutrophication are all possible factors that affect the health of oceans. Water temperature and light penetration also matter. Even surface level can be connected. Wonder if any mention is made of the relationship between algae and cnidaria symbiont species? Also, aren't some plumes from silacaceous shelled organisms?
Global warming is a fact that has been happening for millions of years. So is global cooling. Mankind is not causing global warming or cooling, but it is causing global pollution and the Co2 we create and the forests we destroy could very well be causing pollution of the ocean. I am for reducing pollution of all kinds including Co2, but not to stop global climate change. Rather to save our lives from polluting ourselves into extinction.
At the same time, we hear reports of great plumes of algae, absorbing and neutralizing such problems. It is nothing more than the Mother breathing, as she always has. She's fine - and you're a bit paranoid and myopic.
If they weren't so tragically misinformed some of the replies to this post would be LOL funny. msdevery, the total greenhouse effect is around 58F (32C for non-Americans). If there was no greenhouse effect the temperature of the surface of the earth would be about 0F. Instead it's around 58F. 330C from absolute zero would be about 134F, close to the maximum temperature ever recorded on the surface. Who are these 30,000 scientists suing Al Gore for lying. You just made that up (or someone else made it up and you're just parroting it). Since 1830 CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm to 387 ppm this year, a 38% increase. We can measure how much CO2 humans are emitting based on the use of fossil fuels and the increase in the atmosphere is less than half of the total CO2 we are emitting. In a typical year volcanoes emit less than 5% of the CO2 emitted by humans. Forest fires are often a result of humans clearing forest or starting fires accidentally so you could include much of that in the human caused category as well. If CO2 is 25% of the greenhouse effect and we increase it by 38% I don't know how you would expect that not to have an effect on the climate.
How do we know this is cause of man made CO2? Is .001% of the worlds natural CO2 production really sufficient to cause this acidification? And since we know that CO2 in the atmosphere has been higher in history than it is now, how did the oceanic ecosystems deal with it then? And how do we know this is not the natural progression of our climate? Anyone who understands the extraordinary scale of our earth and its natural climatic events including natural accruing external events also understands how much affect we CAN have on in whether we want to or not. The problem with these "man is destroying the world" ideologies is that they take a piece of evidence out of the context which it exists and makes an absolutest statement. All really big no-nos for science... yet it's ok to do when it comes to global warming apocalyptic claims. Its bizarre to watch such a political movement conquer peoples free will and the bias of science. You have otherwise well educated and unbiased people become heatedly angry if you should suggest that man made global warming is invalid and they should take a second look. Whats even MORE scary, is that using insufficient data we have people seriously trying to push the environment the other way, with no SERIOUS consideration for what their effects might be. We can't even control things we create within our control (like our economy) but we think that somehow we can control the temperature of the world. Lets just be honest thrifty stewards of this world and quit being the whole hypocritical accusers we've become so we can feel more elite than each other in the name of saving the world. How arrogant and psychologically unstable an attitude, but it permeates every aspect of education and business. All these people traveling by plane and car to a conference where they're going to tell us to quit flying planes and driving cars so much. If your worried about the separation between the rich and poor? You think Al Gore is going to quit flying his jet because he asks you too? Of course not, cause he's not worried about the environment. If your worried about the environment YOU TAKE CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT. I'm not worried about the environment and I do more (meaning less) than all my elitist apocalyptic man made global warmists that I associate with. I don't believe you care till you show me, and your hypocritical elitist attitude reeeaaally makes me not like you to the point I'd even say hate. (I say "you" to mean those hypocritical elitist man made global warmists, and not necessarily you or the authors of this article.) "Oh but hating is bad", sure then SHOW ME.
@HexHammer67 I'm most likely older than you and (gag), I'm not a politician. By sheer weight of number, are you referring to the 30,000 or so scientists who have brought a law suit against Al Gore for his falseified and missleading data concerning global warming? AS far as the CO2 issue,it is a minor greenhouse gas, responsible for ~26% (80 C) of the total greenhouse effect (330C), of which in turn at most 25% (~20C) can be attributed to carbon dioxide contributed by human activity. Water vapour, contributing at least 70% of the effect, is by far the most important atmospheric greenhouse gas.
>(Numbers represent subscripts.) H2CO3 + CaCO3 --> H2CO3 + CaCO3, i.e. Carbonic acid and calcium carbonate cannot react with each other in any meaningful way because they both contain the same anion. The fact that carbonic acid is acidic is irrelevant.< Well, no. As you dissolve CO2 in the water, it goes through a number of equilibrium reactions to form either H2CO3 carbonic acid, HCO3- bicarbonate ion, or CO3-- carbonate ions. (- represents charges). While you're right it doesn't react with CaCO3 directly, it does react with other alkaline/acidic constiutuents in the water. Which way the equilibrium rx's fall out, and which form it exists in is determined by the existing alkalinity in the water, and how much CO2 enters the water. The more CO2 injected, the equlibriums shift from carbonate ultimately to the carbonic acid form. The pH drops in step with the shift. There's no debate about the chemistry of carbon in water. Now as far as you accept the CONCLUSIONS of a retired history teacher, and a film maker as to the ultimate outcome of that chemistry, that's a whole 'nother question.
Plastic that pollutes our oceans and land water is man made. Man made CO2 compared to that from forest fires, volcanic eruptions, etc. is minimal.
Bubbles in coca-cola are bubbles of carbon dioxide. I hope the other people involved in the film have a better idea of what they are talking about.
Uh, I think the sheer weight of numbers kind of speaks for itself. Man made or natural phenomena, climate change is a reality, and carbon certainly seems to be a factor. Maybe you arent old enough to have had time to notice yourself. Maybe you are just too busy to care; I am neither. When politics gets in the way of fixing things, however, everyone suffers. You arent a (cough) politician are you?
CAP & TRADE ENSURES THE STATUS QUO FOR OPEC AND TERRORISM Isn?t the timing interesting? With the world in recession and US unemployment figures hovering around 10%. the EPA exceeds its authority and determines CO2 is a pollutant that must be regulated. But America has natural gas and coal in abundance and could eliminate dependence on foreign oil and stop sending billions to countries that sponsor terrorism. And it is estimated that every billion in trade deficit equals 13,000 jobs lost. Washington could keep money, technology and jobs in the US by reducing the trade imbalance. FYI: during the decades America enjoyed great prosperity; no concern was expressed for the plight of the uninsured. The United States agreed to transfer jobs and technology to developing countries under INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT Algiers Declaration Algiers, Algeria, 4-6 March 1975
Has anyone ever calculated the amount of CO2 that is released daily from soft drinks, beer and wine? I bet they will try to ban these products soon
Here we go again yet another GW issue that 'threatens human survival'. Give me a break let's get the science behind this whole ordeal correct, understood and free from political agendas and leave this type of hyperbole to the experts when they can actually prove it 100%...
Perhaps the World community should concentrate on enhancement of the natural cycle of CO2 reduction ie more plant life that needs and uses CO2 in their life-cycle. Every day the Amazon is being reduced in size by indiscriminate burning which not only adds tons of polution into the atmosphere but reduces the natural photosynthesis which converts CO2 to O2. Not paying attention th the need for replacing the plant life being destroyed puts the lie to the crocodile tears being shed for what many believe to be more of a a hoax then reality.
Long before man even came upon the scene. Yet the hard shelled sea creatures managed to survive. This sounds like another alarmist's rants. If it isn't the timing couldn't be worse, after the 'climategate' revelations about fudging data to support a global warming crisis that isn't happening.
cpuwzd- But getting the chemistry of CO2 and HCO etc, in water is NOT "high school chemistry". High school chemistry leaves out too much. The fact remains: CO2 absorbed into ocean water takes the form of several ions, and yes, it does interfere with shell formation. Ocean acidification IS a consequence of too much man-made CO2 in the air. The absorption has slowed down global warming, but only temporarily, and at the high cost of ocean acidification. Now since the absorption process IS governed by heat, it really is legitimate to view ocean acidification as a part of global warming: the heat that would have shown up in higher atmopsheric temperature shows up instead as the heat of absoprtion.
How about some simple high school chemistry? (Numbers represent subscripts.) H2CO3 + CaCO3 --> H2CO3 + CaCO3, i.e. Carbonic acid and calcium carbonate cannot react with each other in any meaningful way because they both contain the same anion. The fact that carbonic acid is acidic is irrelevant. For an acid to react with calcium carbonate, the anion needs to be more reactive than the carbonate (CO3) anion. For example, hydrochloric acid, HCl, reacts with calcium carbonate to produce calcium chloride, water and carbon dioxide: 2HCl + CaCO3 --> CaCl2 + H2O + CO2. Such a reaction would put more carbonic acid into solution until the water is saturated with carbonic acid. Excess carbon dioxide would be released in gaseous form. It is the replacement of the carbonate anion that would destroy oyster shells and similar materials in the ocean, not the presence of more carbonic acid in the water. As indicated in comment 5, the presence of more carbonic acid in the water allows for the creation of more calcium carbonate by sea creatures.
aureolin@... Right on! but actually most independant studies show that the earth is in a cooling phase. Compare old Burpee seed packets for the planting zone charts. They were revised to show the cooling trend.
Is the planet getting warmer: YES. Is it caused by Man: NO Mankind's TOTAL contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide is 0.01%. Yes, that is the correct number, and it's from the science supporting GW. The people promoting action to slow/stave off Global Warming need to get the science ABSOLUTELY CORRECT, and they need to be absolutely honest about what the science says and doesn't say. Fudging the data "for a good cause" just leads to being discredited, and makes it ten times harder to get support for any changes.
It's hard to imagine that scientists at the convention hadn't heard about this before. I've known about this for a while. I probably either read about it in Discover magazine or one of the science cable channels.
And jump-off point for some research. I wasnt aware of the extent of what the ocean was sopping up, CO2-wise, but I was aware that it did. I for one was apalled to read in NewScientist of the list of technologies to be brought in over the next few decades to squeeze every last drop of oil out of the plantes crust, be it crude oil or bitumens. Its already known that the end product is more polluting and carbon-intensive than conventional techniques, and has a far higher cost in resources too, but instead of spending money on research into an alternative to oil, they are simply searching for oil in harder-to-get-at places. One technology relies on sinking electrodes into wells so that high voltage can be passed through the soil, heating and melting the bitumen so it can be pumped. This is the least polluting of them, the others rely on pumping heat as steam or physically burning the seam to extract this dirty version of crude oil. Considering the profits turned by these monumental corporations, isnt it about time they were made to clean up their act? @msdevery: Sure, go on. Stick your head back in the tar-sand.
I read an article that said that some shelled species are growing thicker shells in response to the extra CO2 in the oceans. The article also indicated that the researchers were surprised that the effect was different than expected. There needs to be more data to properly assess this problem. It may be true that the species documented in Sea Change are more susceptable to extra CO2 in the water than other species.
Global warming is nothing short of a very expensive HOAX run by the global elite to tighten their control of the worlds resources.
Maybe this is just evidence of a planetary scale safety valve for the climate...Humans poison the environment to the point that most of us die off from starvation in the next 40 years. The smaller surviving population would then have less impact on the climate and Earth's environment would then return to normal. This could be an interesting experiment let's do nothing and see what happens.
How about the fact that alot of countries are getting rid of the rainforest to grow corn for fuel and they by distroying natures way of handling CO2,... Why is this never brought up when they show them with praise for getting away from oil
Other alarming hysteric History's teacher story teller about the Chemical, Biology and BioChemetry.....Science and Fiction, Fiction and Fiction, please no more....