Journal of the San Juan Islands


Ocean acidification: another reason to just say ‘No’ to coal | Letters

December 31, 2012 · 5:24 PM

We have many problems demanding our attention, but ocean acidification is one which could forever change our islands.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide have been released into the atmosphere, not only warming the planet but increasing ocean CO2 content by 30 percent.

For years scientists have been reporting that CO2 absorption is causing seawater to be more acidic; this change is already destroying coral reefs and threatens the entire marine food chain.

According to the Journal Nature Geoscience, pteropods, small snail-like sea creatures important to many fish including pink salmon, are experiencing thinning and dissolution of their shells resulting in increasing mortality. This is occurring at current pH levels, which is a level initially not expected to be reached until 2038.

Any marine organism dependent on calcium carbonate for a shell or body parts is now at risk from acidification. Fish eggs and a host of organisms at the very base of the ocean’s food web are likewise threatened.

In past epochs, mass extinctions occurred when the oceans became similarly acidic. However, because the chemical changes occurred over many centuries, the ancestors of today’s sea creatures were able to adapt. The present rapid chemical changes may not allow marine organisms to develop survival strategies.

If we value the present oceanic biodiversity and food species, it would seem illogical to promote the use of a fuel associated with physical and economic damages linked to atmospheric and oceanic changes.

We have until Jan. 21 to express our concerns about the transportation and burning of coal overseas. Lowering our planetary CO2 and other green house gas emissions could help save the biology, culture, and economy of our islands. See the Lopez or Orcas “NO COALition”, or the “Friends”, websites for scoping comment assistance.

San Olson/Lopez Island



Commenting Rules

© Sound Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Our Titles | Work With Us