Scientists unveiled the first smoking-gun evidence Wednesday that growing ocean acidity caused by global warming is already stifling growth of vital coral reefs.
The decline of shallow water corals, home to a quarter of the ocean’s species and a lifeline for a billion people, has long been in evidence.
Earlier studies had shown that the rate at which living coral reefs calcify, or accumulate mass, had dropped by about 40 percent in just over 30 years.
Up to now, however, it was not possible to tease out the impact of acidification from other threats such as pollution, over-fishing and warming water.
The world’s oceans are 26 percent more acidic today than at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when mankind started massively burning fossil fuels which give off harmful carbon dioxide (CO2).
About a quarter is absorbed by the oceans, changing their chemical composition, and making the water more acidic and corrosive to corals and shellfish.
“Our work provides the first strong evidence from experiments on a natural ecosystem that ocean acidification is already slowing coral reef growth,” said Rebecca Albright, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California.
“This is no longer a fear for the future. It is the reality of today.”
The findings were published in the science journal Nature.
Albright and colleague Ken Caldeira led experiments on natural reefs off the coast of Australia’s One Tree Island, in the southern Great Barrier Reef.
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Manipulating the chemistry of the seawater flowing over the flat reef, the researchers restored it’s pH — the balance between alkalinity and acidity — to what it would have been without climate change.
As suspected, the corals became better able to build themselves up.
“By turning back time in this way, they demonstrate that — all things being equal — net coral-reef calcification would have been around seven percent higher than at present,” Janice Lough, a scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, noted in a comment, also published in Nature.
The novelty of the experiment, she said, is that it “restored the ocean chemistry of a natural reef to that of pre-industrial times, thus factoring out other potentially confounding factors, such as temperature.”
Some researchers have proposed artificially reducing the acidity of ocean water around coral reefs — a form of geo-engineering — as a means of preserving shallow marine ecosystems.
But even if the experiments underlying the study did exactly that, implementing such a scheme on the required scale would be nigh impossible, the authors caution.
“The only real, lasting way to protect coral reefs is to make deep cuts in our carbon dioxide emissions,” Caldeira said.
“If we don’t take action on this issue very rapidly, coral reefs — and everything that depends on them, including both wildlife and local communities — will not survive into the next century.”
Utah Republican is in deep trouble after trying to defend Trump’s breaking of the law
President Donald Trump's poor standing in Utah could cause big electoral problems for one of his loudest defenders in the state.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) said Trump would be "foolish" if he did not illegally accept election help from foreign adversaries.
On Saturday, Stewart was blasted by former CIA officer Evan McMullin.
McMullin was born in Provo, attended Brigham Young University, is Mormon and a also prominent conservative critic of Trump.
In 2016, McMullin ran against Trump as an Independent and received 21.3 percent of the vote in Utah during the general election. Trump also had problems in Utah during the Republican primary, receiving only 14 percent of the vote.
Trump ‘will not leave his office if he narrowly loses in 2020’: Conservative columnist issues dire warning
President Donald Trump will fight to remain in power regardless of the outcome if the 2020 election is close, a conservative columnist warned on Saturday.
Andrew Sullivan blasted Trump in New York magazine, honing in on the commander-in-chief's lying.
"For Trump, lying is central to his disturbed psyche, and to his success. The brazenness of it unbalances and stupefies sane and adjusted people, thereby constantly giving him an edge and a little breathing space while we try to absorb it, during which he proceeds to the next lie," he wrote.
‘Veto the Cheato’: Americans gathered nationwide for #ImpeachTrump rallies
Frustrated Americans on Saturday attended #ImpeachTrump rallies from coast-to-coast.
The rallies were organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, Democracy for America, the Women's March, Credo and other progressive organizations.
Over 140 events were held nationwide.
[caption id="attachment_1513038" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Map of #ImpeachTrump rallies in the contiguous United States.[/caption]
Many attendees took the time to create hand-made protest signs, while others held printed banners.