Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Responding to the Gazette story about ocean acidification.
In the book Sea Sick by Alana Mitchell, the topic of ocean acidification is discussed at length. Some researchers say that at 450 parts per million, phytoplankton in the southern ocean will die as a result of acidification. The southern ocean is more susceptible but all oceans have their tipping point. That would mean that the base of the food chain in that part of the ocean and a large part of the world’s oxygen production would be interrupted. Coral reefs would also die since all animals that have calcium as part of their life cycle would lose the ability to create calcium. The current CO2 number is 394.49 and is ever increasing. It used to be a rate of less than one part per million rate four decades ago, and now it is more than two parts per million on average, and the rate continues to increase, despite all of the alternative energy. There is not a lot of time left to halt CO2 damage to the oceans. What we also do not know is the effect of the decomposition of the phytoplankton and the resulting sulfur dioxide release from it and what that will do to the atmosphere if this happens and whether the destructive effects will be gradual or more sudden. There are other problems related to ocean acidification. The oceans also absorb much of the CO2 emissions, but when they have absorbed the maximum that they are capable of holding, this will mean a rapid escalation of the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It is definitely a mystery, though it’s hard to understand why none of this is part of the presidential campaign and job creation through increased industrialization with scant if any regard to the environment. People might debate global warming all they want, but the relationship between CO2 and ocean acidification is well-established chemistry.
Some economists say that linking quantitative easing (printing more money) to the creation of green jobs would make far more sense than giving the money to the banks. People would be put to work doing useful things to make homes and businesses better insulated, thus saving energy and just as important, money. Green technologies would be stimulated and prices would come down as solar and other alternative technologies production increased. In fact, one economist theorizes that the only way out of the debt crisis and the climate change crisis is to do exactly this. There really is not the time left to continue to not tackle this issue if the world is to somehow avoid oceans and farmlands becoming acidified and baked to oblivion from climate change. But the most important part of a presidential emphasis on the creation of green jobs would be a signal to the developing nations of the world where the real growth is happening, now that we as a country are serious about tackling CO2. All the alternative energy in the world is not going to help us if we as individuals do not change, and this is really the crux of the matter. This need not be painful in any way as we find ways to vastly enrich our lives without consuming so much energy.