NPR talks about Ocean Acidity

I heard a story this morning about ocean acidity and its effects as a carbon sink in the environment on NPR.

Basicaly the story says that increased acidity in the ocean stimulates growth for some critters that capture carbon and so carbon increase leading to ocean acidity increases may not be that big of a deal. There’s also a comment that these findings are a surprise to most oceanologists.

So my question is, how does this effect the current models for AGW?


Thought I’d give this post it’s one bump to see if anyone interested in commenting on it never saw it due to the speed of the forum.


Sounds like a natural homeostatic mechanism to me. One of the issues with AGW, is the idea that we are somehow separate from our environment rather than merely an organism within it. Perhaps the world is adaptable enough to even handle us at our current rate of technological innovation. Part of the problem here is the dichotomy between the ideas of ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’, as though humans could do anything that is ‘unnatural’.

Not sure exactly what to say at this point. I guess that it just shows that things are complicated and there are likely to be some winners, as well as some losers, in a more acidic ocean. But, this one study is only one small piece of the puzzle.

I don’t see it as having much affect per se on AGW. Technically, it could be having some effect on the carbon cycle in terms of affecting the balance by which the ocean uptakes the CO2…but even one of the authors of the study says that this works both ways (“On the one hand, the plankton engage in photosynthesis, consuming CO2 in the process. On the other, when they make their shells of calcium carbonate, they also release CO2”) and overall it is unlikely to “tip the balance”.

mswas: Well, it may be true that the distinction between “natural” and not is somewhat artificial. However, that is still rather irrelevant to the point that we are able to cause very rapid and potentially disruptive changes to our environment…and unlike other creatures that have done this unwittingly in the past (as we are certainly not the first organisms to alter the earth’s atmospheric chemistry!), we have the consciousness to recognize what we are doing and to potentially try to alter our course.

Certainly, and our ability to do so within this context would be another homeostatic mechanism. It’s not like we’re really introducing radical amounts of new elements into the atmosphere. We’re just sort of shifting them about. The nature of homeostatic mechanisms as I understand it is that they respond to stimulus, the more stimulus, the more they react. Obviously when you surpass a threshold this doesn’t work, but it would seem that there are some natural mechanisms that get triggered by our impact. I’m not sold on AGW as a major cause. Of course we contribute, but I find it hard to believe that we are the primary cause. Maybe if people go with enough green burials for their kin, we’ll start to harmonize with our environment better. :wink:

Well, there never has been a species like us before, you must admit.

As far as I know, no other species has made their environment less hospitable to itself in the way that we are. We may not be unnatural, but we deviate pretty far from “normal” behavior for earth’s creatures.

I think that we are well withing normal behavior for a group with no predators. We’re overexpanding and using up resources at an alarming rate, just like any other animal who’s predators are absent for whatever reason.



Blue-greens (call them algae or cyanobacteria, whichever you prefer) did it first. They flooded the earth with toxic oxygen, completely remaking the atmosphere. Not bad for being unicellular.

I don’t see how you can say that, considering that as we move along through history our life expectancy and quality has gone up significantly. Our environments seem to be more and more hospitable as time goes by.

BrainGlutton Absolutely.

Once you’ve read their books on how they did it, it’s rather unimpressive.

It also retards growth for other ocean critters, most critically coral polyps. Who otherwise lock away carbon in coral reefs. Which IS a big deal.

And how many millions of years did that take? Compare to the decades long scale that humans have been remaking the atmosphere, and you’ll start to understand the problem. There will be some homeostatic process(es) in response. The question is how we as a species will fare during that rebalancing, and after.