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The problem with "climate change" is that the deniers have effectively sown doubt about the causes and realities of global warming, regardless of the data or the agreement of experts.

There is a new reality that is much more fundamental, laid out magnificently in "The toxic sea: the other CO2 problem" -- that of ocean acidification.

This is chemical. This is measured in decades. We may live to see an ocean that cannot support life as it has known it for millions of years.

"Ocean acidification" has no deniers.

Nobody disputes that as CO2 goes into the atmosphere, it gets absorbed at approximately a ton of carbon per person, per year, which gets absorbed by the ocean as carbolic acid. That acidic water prevents calcium-based structures -- phytoplankton, shellfish, coral, and much more -- from successfully forming.

Go read the article:

They are calling it "the other CO2 problem". Its victim is not the polar bear spectacularly marooned on a melting ice floe, or an eagle driven out of its range, nor even a French pensioner dying of heatstroke. What we have to mourn are tiny marine organisms dissolving in acidified water. In fact we need to do rather more than just mourn them. We need to dive in and save them.

Suffering plankton may not have quite the same cachet as a 700-kilo seal-eating mammal, but their message is no less apocalyptic. What they tell us is that the chemistry of the oceans is changing, and that, unless we act decisively, the limitless abundance of the sea within a very few decades will degrade into a useless tidal desert. ...

On average, each person on Earth contributes a tonne of carbon to the oceans every year. The result is a rapid rise in acidity -- or a reduction in pH, as the scientists prefer to express it -- which, as it intensifies, will mean that marine animals will be unable to grow shells, and that many sea plants will not survive.

With these crucial links removed, and the ecological balance fatally disrupted, death could flow all the way up the food chain, through tuna and cod to marine mammals and Homo sapiens. As more than half the world's population depends on food from the sea for its survival, this is no exaggeration.

We've only really known about this ocean acidificationa effect for five years, but the data are nonetheless undeniable.

Given that reality -- and the lack of deniers -- we have an opportunity to recalibrate and repromote the reality of what we're doing to the world, by refocusing the promotional, viral, water-cooler energy not just on the functionally undeniable reality of anthropogenic climate change -- but also on the undeniable reality of ocean acidification, which is a greater direct threat to half the world's population.

It may be too late to stop some acidification. But the worst awfulness of a dead worldwide ocean -- where the phytoplankton have been acidified to death, so there's no food for the planktivorous fish, which are at the "topsoil" level of the food chain, thereby creating an ocean death spiral of ecosystem collapse.

But we can perhaps mitigate it, so that the ocean, in the next century, has a chance to recover.

I'm frightened by the reality that the environmental Ponzi scheme of the last century (as even Tom Friedman recognized in the NY Times) has no "banker of last resort." We can't buy ourselves out of a collapsing ocean.

So tomorrow, at the water cooler, at lunch, during the huggermugger before a meeting begins, mention ocean acidification. Go read Girling's great piece in the TimesOnline, to be sure you understand it. Or take a look at 34 pieces from the last year on ocean acidification to be sure you have good background.

But let's get the word out. All hands on deck.

And let's get this undeniable, gut-wrenchingly scary meme out there in the world.

It matters far more than any bailout of toxic debt, or whether we're in a recession or a depression.

We're talking about survival of civilization as we understand it to be.

Originally posted to mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It is about food in the ocean and on land (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, G2geek, marykk, dewley notid

    That is what we are talking about when we talk about climate change, or climaticide, or any of the other names we reviewed a week ago n Adam's diary. I have been messing with names after that and I think we need to get away from climate and start naming things for what they do to people. I think we have a food for oil economy, we use oil and coal now to keep industrial production and profits for current corporations high at the expense of having a lot less food later as we rapidly change the climate.

    This part about the oceans is terrifying and needs to get out into the public awareness as fast as possible but if we tie it together with the land based effects of climate change then we can talk about our effect on the climate as a world wide assault on food. I haven't come up with a good name to re-focus on climate change as an assault of food availability but I'm working on it.

    Is the source of the 50% decline of food number documented in the links you put in your diary, I haven't checked and I would like to have some solid information on that. Nice work on the diary, thanks.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:47:52 PM PDT

    •  It's about food, but also about awareness (6+ / 0-)

      As you say:

      This part about the oceans is terrifying and needs to get out into the public awareness as fast as possible but if we tie it together with the land based effects of climate change then we can talk about our effect on the climate as a world wide assault on food. I haven't come up with a good name to re-focus on climate change as an assault of food availability but I'm working on it.

      I completely agree -- it's all about tying together. This diary's post is about a "soundbite" -- something that will be undeniable, and might change the way the average Joe thinks.

      That changing our carbon output [to save the ocean] might also save the climate? Rock!

      All the news that scares us silly:

      by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I spoke out more than 5 years ago (7+ / 0-)

    against "ocean sequestration" of CO2 experiments planned for Hawaii. I raised the issue of ocean acidification in public hearings.

    The project was stopped by an Environmental Defense lawsuit, but the ocean acidification issue was raised then.

    Ken Caldeira has been studying acidification for more than 5 years, but I wasn't aware of his work when I spoke up. My objection was based on my knowledge of geochemistry and the geologic record.

    Thanks for bringing this issue up. I promise, I will discuss it in detail soon.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:49:42 PM PDT

  •  The deniers GIANT EGOS (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, mwmwm, G2geek, dewley notid

    probably think they will solve this by something stupid like dropping giant alka seltzer tablets into the ocean.

    Or giant Purple Pills.

    Thanks to non-science, egomaniacal, trickle down deluded leaders, all attention and research is on treating the SYMPTOMS as the greedy nutcases don't want to spend a dime on the CURE.

    Well, having grown up with the Atlantic Ocean in my back yard in Maine, I will miss her.

    The lobsters already have shell diseases.  Will miss lobster, too.  Well, not to worry, we will have Monsanto Faux Lobster in no time.

    "It looks like the shell has been eroded away by acid," said Robert Glenn, a state Division of Marine Fisheries senior biologist and director of the state's lobster program. Glenn said more research needs to be done to pinpoint the cause of the problem. "We don't have enough of a handle on the mechanism causing the disease," he said.

    And they will fund studies to see if it is CO2 or plastics all while our Earth is ruined.  Screw funding studies anymore.  It is time to spend all that money in CURES.  STOP CO2 and pollutants.

    Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

    by War on Error on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:52:26 PM PDT

    •  Thanks -- just posted (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, G2geek, dewley notid

      a bit on the apocadocs site on this very topic, because you raised the topic!

      And yes -- time to FIX the problems, not just study them, as long as the fix doesn't have longterm consequences.

      All the news that scares us silly:

      by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:05:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess that will depend on which (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mwmwm, dewley notid

        KleptoKrat gets awarded to do the fix.  Somehow, I suspect a real fix would be a disincentive.  Got to keep the milk from the Government teet flowing, right?  

        What a backwards, selfish, short-sighted, gutless group of tards run governments!

        Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

        by War on Error on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:21:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If someone makes a profit... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, G2geek, dewley notid

          ... while also saving the world, more power to them.

          But I agree that we need to be wary of those promising "fixes" that are just pocket-linings.

          All the news that scares us silly:

          by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:23:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very cool website, mwmwm! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Did you design this?

            Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

            by War on Error on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:25:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, if you mean apocadocs... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, G2geek

              ... then yes.

              It's just my buddy and me, trying to find ways to make the collapse meme palatable, and understandable.

              But thanks!

              We hope to find more and more visitors "humoring the horror" of environmental collapse. If you are new to the site, try the "PaniCloud" to see what stories have come to the fore, or just the home page to stay up to date on themes we wish we didn't have to mention....

              All the news that scares us silly:

              by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:34:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I thought you might enjoy my poem (0+ / 0-)

                Urban Sprawl - Mother Nature's Rape

                While the urban sprawl
                mauls Mother Nature's wonder.

                The greedy capitalists' sins,
                profit and gain,
                reign while Chaos grins.

                Slowly sowing the seeds of destruction
                with a manic push for production;
                lulled into carnal security,
                too blind to see.

                In the end, many will have profited
                their temporary gain,
                then watch helplessly
                their desperate childrens' pain.

                Wondering when they could have saved
                their tiny ones
                from dying of thirst
                or a belly full of hunger.

                A man will trade his mansion on high
                for food and water so his child won't die.

                Nothing will escape the planet-wide mistake
                of Mother Nature's rape!

                PS:  I hope you keep up the good work.  You can use this poem if you would like with my permission now granted.  I feel so worried for my grandchildren.  Crazy Capitalists!

                Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

                by War on Error on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 05:14:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The Profiteers Wrecked More of the World in 8 Yrs (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, G2geek

            than the government kleptocrats did, by 2 maybe 3 orders of magnitude.

            They may even end up killing more than the neocons did, once this depression starts kicking serious ass.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:37:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The profiting system is indeed self-defeating... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, G2geek

              and it will, I'm afraid, be "kicking serious ass" in ways that may preclude true recovery. We have imbued our habits with approaches that are almost sure to kill ourselves.

              I'm among the pessimists, I'm afraid, even as I try to keep a stiff upper lip, and a positive "we can do it" state of mind.

              All the news that scares us silly:

              by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:44:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Lime ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

    by indycam on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:11:00 PM PDT

    •  May it be so easy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Unfortunately the energy costs of turning limestone into Acid-Away™ are not insubstantial.

      But turning the White Cliffs of Dover (and the quarries of Indiana) into an acid-mitigation scheme may have other economic roadblocks, absent a groundswell of support for radical, serious solutions.

      That said, at this point, I'm all ears, for an approach that would de-acidify the acidifying oceans.

      All the news that scares us silly:

      by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:17:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ANYTHING That's Not Delivered Basically Exactly (3+ / 0-)

        the same ways and locations and concentrations as the pollution, is going to constitute its own form of pollution locally and regionally.

        If it's big enough to change a planet, and it's dispersed over a small enough region to be affordable, it's gonna have mega local impact and also downwind/downcurrent.

        Not to rule out such an approach automatically, but there's gonna need to be bare minimum some consideration of probably millions of people who are going to be disrupted by the fixes.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:43:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  probably *billions*, alas. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We will have to shift to a radically different economy -- one based on calories and agriproduction -- to be able to functionally survive.

          And disruption? Well over 3 billion will need to change their lives -- approximately those who are living as if the ecology is not the economy.

          All the news that scares us silly:

          by mwmwm on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:47:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  let's be quite clear about this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mwmwm, count

        Half the world starving to death for lack of fish, is only half the problem

        The other half of the problem is the rest of the humans dying off when the phytoplankton cease producing the oxygen upon which we depend for our lives.  

        Let there be no mistake about this:  if we kill off the phytoplankton, the level of atmospheric oxygen will decline proportionally, and then it's the end for most animal life on planet Earth, ourselves included.  

        The impact of this cannot be overstated.  

  •  I begin to wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What's more likely, we as a species unite to stop the coming climate changes, or we as individual groups develop ways to adapt and evolve to the changes?

    I've been reading up on extinction-level events recently. The last time the ocean experienced large scale acidification, long before humans were a factor, 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial life went extinct. I have no doubt that life on the planet will survive in some form, the question is what role, if any, humanity will have in a future 1000 years from now.

    OEF/OIF vet
    I've been called a left-wing extremist because I absolutely oppose torture. I can live with that.

    by jabbausaf on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 05:56:42 PM PDT

    •  bingo! exactly. (0+ / 0-)

      If we kill off the phytoplankton, we are done for.  End of story.  

      This makes the climate crisis and the oceans together, our #1 priority.  

      The money we've thrown at Iraq and at fraudulent bankers could have built enough renewables and nuclear to replace coal in the USA and a good chunk of China and India.  But no.  We pissed it down a pair of Bush-era rat holes.  

      We have the technology to solve this, right now.  The issue is to muster the will.  

      •  I'll be shocked if that happens (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Not the phtyoplankton dying part, the will to change and solve our problems part. I strongly suspect that the mostly likely course will be a mass die-off, humans included, and the species that are left will repopulate the earth, as has happened in the past. The level of adaptability that humans are able to attain will determine whether any live through the extinction event.

        If we can't adapt, that'll be it for us and for all domesticated animals that cant go feral.

        OEF/OIF vet
        I've been called a left-wing extremist because I absolutely oppose torture. I can live with that.

        by jabbausaf on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:39:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we can console ourselves that... (0+ / 0-)

          ....according to astronomers, based on discoveries of planets around other stars, the probability of life-bearing planets is much higher than was formerly held to be the case.

          If life in general is more likely, then other intelligent life is also more likely, and other civilizations more likely.  

          Thus, we may blow it altogether, but the probability is that someone else succeeds, and intelligence (self-aware consciousness, free will, etc.) continues throughout our galaxy.  And even if we trash the planet, sooner or later someone else will come along and find it, and terraform it for their own needs.

          In that context, human extinction is a tragedy on a human scale rather than on a cosmic scale; akin to a death in the family compared to a nuclear war.

          One could console oneself with that.  

          Hopefully we won't have to.

          Either way, children born today will see it first-hand.  

  •  That's two alarming articles out of the UK today (0+ / 0-)

    ...wrt global warming and/or runaway CO2 problems.

    The other was this one: Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures from The Guardian.

    The article should come as no surprise for anyone who has been paying attention as the IPCC and follow-on scientific analyses have shown accelerating effects of global warming. This article and the scientists behind it suggest a rise of "only" 1.1 meters by the end of this century (others have predicted as much as 1.5 meters), though that would be enough to submerege the Maldives, the Sunderbans, Tuvalu and Kiribati and cause huge displacements of populations (and loss of life) across the globe in the face of the rising tides.

    And yet, there remain idiots who are leading the parade of deniers among us, like moronic Jeff Jacboy, opinion columnist for the Boston Globe, who wrote this piece of tripe for today's paper: Where's Global Warming?

    Memo to Republicans - "Nope" is not a strategy...

    by frisco on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 06:14:46 PM PDT

  •  Acidification. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, FarWestGirl

    I agree that ocean pH, although alkaline, is decreasing. At this date, I know of no evidence that CO2 is the main culprit. At this date, statements that carbon dioxide is the main cause of ocean acidification are unsubstantiated assertions.

    Yet, I constantly read reports that ASSUME CO2 is the problem.

    Many well-intentioned Americans think that coalburners remove mineral acids from their smokestack emissions. In newer plants, some mineral acids are removed. Older plants, such as most of TVAs coalburners, do not remove mineral acids.

    And that's just in the U.S. Think of all the coalburners in the world in countries with no or minimal emissions restrictions, not to ignore the ocean vessels that burn Bunker C. Bunker C is the concentrated evil residuum remaining from petroleum distillation. Ocean transports (including those luxury cruise ships that are so pretty) burn Bunker C partly because it is cheap, but primarily because ocean transport is not subject to pollution control regulations.

    Burning coal and Bunker C releases a great amount of sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, etc., in addition to the arsenic, mercury, and other pollutants we hear so much about. We NEVER hear alarms about mineral acid emissions. For those of you who aren't chemists, fully ionized mineral acids are much more destructive than weakly ionized carbonic acid. NOT CARBOLIC ACID, FER CHRISSAKE. Carbolic acid is phenol. Sheesh.

    I trouble to make this point for one reason: mineral acids are removable. Emphasizing carbon dioxide as the main acidification agent is a convenient diversionary distraction that prevents people from attending a problem that can be solved, although it would cost money, in favor of endless "debate" and "study" of a problem that is much more difficult.

    Carbon dioxide emission is a bad thing. If you wish to moderate acidification of the world's waters, though, focus on getting coalburning power plants and ocean vessels to stop emitting mineral acids.

    Now that I have that off my chest, I will do two things.

    1. Find and post a link that will sicken you at the amount of mineral acids spewed by TVA coalburners, and that is only 11 moderately sized plants.
    1. Chase the diarist's links, to find out if the cited sources actually address carbon dioxide with the context of mineral acids. Nobody had done it, last time I researched this.
    •  TVA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, FarWestGirl

      TVA has 11 coalburning facilities. Most plants have more than one furnace. The following emissions are for all the furnaces at each facility.

      A few plants, three or perhaps four, have acid scrubbers. Also, TVA has made an effort to shift to low sulfur coal.

      Allen is the first plant in an alphabetized list. Scroll down the page and you will see a chart showing SO2 emissions have declined since the 1970s. At the bottom of the page is a chart showing pounds of pollutants spewed for an itemized list of pollutants. For Allen, you might read those numbers and say gosh, what is count so upset? That doesn't look too bad.

      Other plants, such as Kingston, are much worse. Again, Kingston SO2 emissions have declined since the 1970s because of switchig to low-sulfur fuel, but Kingston doesn't have scrubbers. It could, but TVA fights fang and claw against any effort to force them to modernize. Although they are protected by a shadowy cabal of Southern Senators and Representatives (nicknamed the TVA Congressional Caucus, Lamar Alexander currently is a cochair, I think Heath Shuler is the other cochair), TVA lost a recent court case in the eastern part of their service area which would require them to install scrubbers on plants in the affected area, if it sticks. Don't hold your breath. (Citizens of the service area should hold their breath, if they could, to minimize taking that crap into their lungs.

      At the right top of the Allen page is a drop-down list of TVA coalburners. View the numbers for each plant, if you dare. It's disgusting. And remember, that is for only one U.S. generating company.


    •  Umm, a lot right here, a lot wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, FarWestGirl

      Mineral acids are an issue: there is an entire program just in the US devoted to it, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. This did indeed start because of coalburning contribution to acid rain, but is much larger than that now. It is also why sulfur in gasoline and diesel has been steadily decreasing (that along with PM formation), why ships in some US coastal waters (CA definitely) must switch to a lower sulfur fuel. Bunker fuel is indeed truly nasty stuff.

      You are also correct in that the solvated form is carbonic acid, not carbolic acid (which is really an alcohol).

      But if you really believe this:

      At this date, statements that carbon dioxide is the main cause of ocean acidification are unsubstantiated assertions.

      You haven't been looking at the primary literature. Highly concentrated plumes of mineral acids might reach the equivalent of ppm, but these are highly localized. CO2 is nearly 400 ppm throughout the entire atmosphere. "Pristine" rainwater has a pH of around 5.6 -- almost all due to carbon. Acid rain gets much lower of course but that's localized (residence time of mineral acids is short), not global.

      So if you're interested, look up the ionic composition of seawater. Do a BOE on what pH anomaly  you get from CO2 and what you get from mineral acids.

      Not to say that mineral acids are unimportant -- they are, and continue to be the subject of regulation. But for ocean acidification, they're bit players.

      •  Primary literature? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, FarWestGirl

        No, all I read is crap like this:

        Scientific American, February 2009

        Marine ecologist J. Timothy Wootton of the University of Chicago and his colleagues spent eight years compiling measurements of acidity, salinity, temperature and other data from Tatoosh Island off the northwestern tip of Washington State. They found that the average acidity rose more than 10 times faster than predicted by climate simulations.

        Wootton notes that the changes his team saw were linked with growing levels of atmospheric CO2, but he readily acknowledges that the global-warming gas might not be the main culprit in this surge in acidity.

        Wootton continues

        Instead the acidification the researchers observed could have resulted from a nearby upwelling of deep ocean water loaded with carbon

        but, very curiously, he does not say that any such upwelling of deep ocean water loaded with carbon actually existed. WTF? He and his team spent eight years of their lives for that? For shame.

        The team did measure an upwelling index. The index didn't increase with time, however. Furthermore, apparently they didn't measure total carbon, H2CO3, HCO3(-) or CO3(2-). Nor did they measure changes in the concentrations of any other ions, although they did monitor total salinity.

        Data supplement to the article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (3 page pdf):

        supporting info,

        Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 2 2008, not very helpful, it is only the abstract. A database of PNAS that offers some articles free of charge hasn't been updated since September 2008, and I would need to pay $25 to read the full article at PNAS.

        Mineral acids the subject of regulation - yes, in the U.S. God bless us for that - it has made a real difference, both in reducing air pollution and water pollution. In much of the rest of the world, not so much. Even in the U.S. we have only so-so controls, and we could do much better.

        Ionic composition of seawater, from an old table (this goes by element, not ionic species. The number for Cl would be the number for Cl(-), but the number for S would have to be massaged by appropriate arithmetic to get SO4(2-), SO4H(-), SO4H2, S-, etc. Heck, just assume it's all SO4(2-).

        Cl  = 18,980 ppm
        Na  = 10,561 ppm
        Mg  =  1,272 ppm
        S   =    884 ppm
        Ca  =    400 ppm
        K   =    380 ppm
        C   =     28 ppm (inorganic)

        But what's your point? Ionic composition is not a helpful concept if we know neither the source of the measured ions nor the mineral acid loading, which we don't because nobody tracks mineral acid air and water pollution.

        Primary literature, huh? As I said, I don't know of any that says CO2 is the main agent of ocean acidification. Do you have links?

        •  Mea culpa on the carbonic/carbolic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          count, G2geek

          One of those I got in my head wrong the first time, and keep fouling up in the heat of typing...

          On the other emissions issues, I have no doubt that mineral acids are a factor, and should be both investigated further and addressed.

          That doesn't change the basic chemistry problem of ocean absorbtion of carbon, which we have put into the atmosphere in abundance. Coal is, to my mind, pre-sequestered carbon that we are mindlessly pumping into our environment, along with the mineral acids and heavy metals within it.

          Anthropogenic pH change -- at a rate never seen before -- is just one of the more clearly understandable results of our generalized treatment of the environment as a trash can to dump whatever we want to dump -- with a variety of unintended consequences.

          We are bringing early, impoverished death upon all our children and grandchildren, unless we dramatically change our approach and lifestyles.

          I applaud your attention to this issue, even if its emissions may cloud the issue of human culpability. :D

          All the news that scares us silly:

          by mwmwm on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:20:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  pre-sequestered carbon (0+ / 0-)

            I love that term. I'll use it as much as possible.

            I don't think any of this (you or me or any of the articles emphasizing CO2 agency) beclouds or obscures human culpability. What grabs me is that the strong mineral acids are so easy to measure, target, do something about. Sure scrubbers are costly, but any solution will be costly, and we can do scrubbers now if we only have the will.

            And it would create jobs!

            And after all, making coal more costly is "a consumation devoutly to be wished."

            I knew you would respond with a good comment. I love your work.

          •  pH change (0+ / 0-)

            at a rate never seen before

            Although I dumped on Wootton's paper with regard to the acidification agency, it does say

            average acidity rose more than 10 times faster than predicted by climate simulations.

            That deserves attention.

          •  pre-sequestered carbon (0+ / 0-)

            The more I think about that, the more I love it.

        •  Wootton article (0+ / 0-)

          Interestingly, a pre-publication article about Wootton's paper is linked at apocadocs (eurekalert), which doesn't include the Wootton statement I bolded.

          The eurekalert article wasn't in the first 20 links I checked.

        •  Hmm, here are some online (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Teh Google brings up this, where a WHOI researcher finds that in coastal areas acid deposition may contribute as much as 10-50% of the acidity that carbon does. Or this, where a study in Bermuda finds that acid deposition might contribute as much as 2% of ocean acidification (the rest is carbon). Now Bermuda isn't coastal, but it does see some US influence. Then there's this,  where it is found that HNO3 deposition to the Pacific and Indian oceans was on order 8 Tg/yr in 1990 (or 75% of the total ocean surface), expecting to rise to perhaps 18 Tg/yr in 2030. Sulfur is on that order, carbon is over 90 Pg/yr for the entire ocean.

          Anyway, the point is that mineral acids may be significant locally, but globally they are minor players. And perhaps the primary literature comment was not entirely realistic, as way too much of the online content is pay per article (which is a bit raw since the taxpayer funds the work, but that's another topic).

          Re: ionic composition. Need to know that to determine buffering.

          Re: sulfate, bisulfate, sulfide, etc. It's all sulfate. Too oxidizing to maintain any sulfides to speak of, too basic to maintain bisulfate (not to mention H2SO4). Carbonate is different since the pKas are (IIRC) 6.4 and 10.3, whereas ocean pH is about 8.

          Re: deep ocean water. The stuff is saturated with DIC (inorganic carbon) when brought up to the surface. The deeper, the more DIC, because CaCO3 is not stable under low temps and high pressures, and spontaneously dissolves below the carbonate compensation depth. Deep ocean waters form the second largest reservoir of carbon on the planet, behind only the lithosphere.

          Re: not tracking mineral acids and river runoff. Sorry that is just not true. It is true we don't do enough (perennial complaint about funding here...) And generally we are interested more in nutrient supply and chemical cycling, since that can be significant.

          But it sounds like you might be interested in a couple of books: Rohde et al., Earth System Science, J. Wiley & Sons; and Schlesinger, Biogeochemistry. The second is a classic, but getting on (1997, IIRC); I like the first better, although things are changing so quickly even it is getting out of date.

    •  Diarist's linked sources (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, FarWestGirl

      The first link goes to a ludicrous TimesOnline article that, as I feared, does not even mention sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, etc.

      As for the Monaco Declaration mentioned in the link, it is a superficial propaganda blurb, issued January 30, 2009 from a conference held in October 2008. I don't know why the delay was so long - that bumper sticker could have been issued the day after the conference ended. Perhaps some difficulty was encountered in getting participants to sign on to the CO2-only message.

      The Monaco Declaration (this copy is hosted at Scripps), is a 5.2 MB pdf. Print the four pages and line your parakeet's cage with them.

      I chased the links for the first 20 references in the apocadocs link. They all regurgitate the same few arguments. Don't echo chambers get somewhat messy?

      I repeat: I'm not saying that CO2 pollution is not a problem. I think people, many sincere and honest people, are dismally entranced by the bright shiny spinning bauble that says, pH is decreasing at a faster rate, CO2 is increasing at a faster rate, pH decrease must be a consequence of CO2 pollution. Remember, though, that as CO2 generation increases, so too does the emission of strong mineral acid pollutants. Much more CO2 is generated than sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, I'm acutely aware of that. However, the huge majority of strong mineral acid, even that which lands on the parking lot of my grocery store, ends up in the ocean. A small bit that lands on soil is retained by the soil (or plants therein/thereon). The amounts that end up in bodies of water are essentially completely ionized - that is, 100% available to lower pH. Even the second proton of sulfuric acid is mostly ionized.

      Furthermore, quite apart from coalburner emissions, strong mineral acids and many organic acids that are stronger acids than carbonic, are common industrial pollutants around the world.

      Fine, reducing coalburner-generated CO2 emissions will simultaneously reduce strong acid emissions. Granted. Slowing the rate at which fossil fuel plants generate CO2 will slow the rate at which strong mineral acids are generated. Granted. While waiting for that wonderful day, however, all coalburners around the world should be fitted with acid-removing scrubbers, ocean-going vessels should be fitted with state-of-the-art pollution controls, and strong industrial discharge limits should be enforced around the world. And I'm not just talking here about the so-called third world. Italy. Greece. Mexico. U.S.A.

      We have the most liklihood of doing something about this here at home. It can be done. It should be done. Coal never has been and never will be environmentally cheap and the best thing to with it is make it obsolete in the long run.

      You want to mitigate ocean acidification beginning now, though? Fix the deplorable situation of lax pollution controls, both here and abroad.


      Damn. Did I shoot myself in both feet with that last line?

      •  Shooting feet=job security? Might keep you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        count, G2geek

        occupied and off the streets for a very long time. ;-)

        Good points. The article I saw in Discover, (Dec issue, I think), seriously depressed me for a week, but they also talked only of CO2, no mention of the mineral acids. They also said that a complete ocean circulation took ~20K years and projected it would take at least three complete circulations to sequester the carbon that would still be washing out of the air and runoff for the next 150 years if a neutron bomb went off and we ceased polluting tomorrow. :::sigh::

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 11:24:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  all of the above. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This isn't either/or, it's and/both.  

      Thanks for the info on the chemistry.  Frankly chem is one of my weak spots so the best I can do is spread your memes without in-depth knowledge to back them up independently.  

      Thing is, we still have to phase out fossil fuels and replace with nuclear and renewables.  There's no getting around that.  

      Ageing fossil fuel power plants that lack proper emissions controls should be the first to go.  Those should be bulldozed and replaced with nuclear reactors ASAP.   Start with the sites where the reactors can be built and cut into service before shutting down the fossil fuel plants, and then go from there.  

      As for ocean transport, the US could refuse entry to ships burning Bunker C, and then start pushing for global regulation.  As for WTO and GATT and so on, f--- 'em.  Love of money is the root of all evil.  

      •  Good thoughts. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Ocean transport - you're correct. I think regulation must be local now, but it should be federal. I remember Long Beach California had a severe and worsening air pollution problem a few years ago and imposed a requirement that ships switch to diesel (perhaps even low-sulfur diesel?) at some specified distance from the port.

        I don't know if WTO/GATT weighed in on that. Good question.

        I have no information on regulation in other ports (or states.) Good topic for more research.

        •  switching fuel near port (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          doesn't do anything about pollution at sea, though. Unfortunately. This problem is being discussed internationally, but I despair of results. After all, the oil people need an outlet for the residual, or it becomes a hazardous waste (in the U.S. I suppose it could be used to oil dusty roads in some other countries. Shudder.)

          •  speaking of oiling roads and so on... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Does that stuff kill the ocean if it's used on roads, as opposed to being burned?  That is, does the burning add to the mineral fallout, or does it just disperse the problem into the atmosphere where it can come down in the form of rain into the oceans?

            This particular problem may become self-limiting in one way:  with peak oil, we will have to find ways to clean up all of our petroleum fractions to make more effective use of them in whatever way.   This assumes that it is technically feasible, with a tolerable EROEI, to convert Bunker C into something else even at higher monetary cost.  This would happen when the cost of extracting oil from wells etc. goes high enough by comparison.  

            So this is another research question or two that are beyond my skill-set:

            Is there a chemical pathway to gain further comparatively-clean fuel (or for that matter industrial feedstocks) from Bunker C...?

            What's the EROEI on that?

            And given what we know of peak oil, could the above points result in lower emissions of the toxics of highest concern?  

            And, given what we know of the world's total oil supply, could it be handled in this way and the toxic output remain below the threshold of a tipping point that would result in killing off the phytoplankton?  

            I don't expect you or anyone at present could get all the answers to the above, but some useful guesses would be a starting point.  


            As for regulations, this stuff has to be written into "law of the sea," and at some point we have to recognize that the atmosphere is not a "national" resource but a global one that must be administered on a global scale. No country has exclusive territorial claim to atmosphere, thus no country has a right to crap it up for all others.  

            Bugger all, this would be so much simpler with only 2 billion humans on the planet...

            •  ICCG (0+ / 0-)

              Pregnant comment about law of the sea. Should we have a global law of the atmosphere? The answer is self-evident. You are an insightful thinker.

              Integrated Combined Cycle Gasification would be the technology used to convert coal to higher value liquids (Coal To Liquid or CTL). I don't know if anyone has ever used it to convert Bunker C, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover it would be feasible to inject a certain amount of Bunker C into the feedstream of a CTL plant. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, in other words. EROEI would not be good, but the monetary ROI is good when the price of petroleum products (the CTL output) is sufficiently high.

              When we read about "clean coal", we're reading about CTL. Think Governor Brian Schweitzer. Existing CTL plants are old and dirty, example SASOL plants in South Africa. Nobody would build one of those plants today. ICCG is attractive because it probably is the most efficient way to capture toxic pollutants, except for CO2. Even for CO2, ICCG is the most efficient way to capture/sequester CO2 if we ever get there.

              Obama gets hard knocks from people who object to his support for clean coal. I don't know that this is fair. I think what he supports is CTL with carbon sequestration. He fought hard to get a pilot plant project in Illinois. He lost that fight. He won, actually, but when the advisory technical panel decided the facility should be located in Illinois (instead of Missouri, I think) Bush killed it. Another addition to the list of Bush failures.

              Keeping emissions below tipping point? I punt that one. Depends of the widespread adoption of the technology, doncha know.

            •  Oiling roads (0+ / 0-)

              Burning does increase the pollution load. Using some Bunker C in asphalt or roofing tar keeps some of the pollutants on land instead of the sea.

              I was kinda kidding about oiling roads with it, even if it would protect the oceans.

            •  Burning Bunker C (0+ / 0-)

              Or, we could burn Bunker C with best pollution control technology.

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