What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

That pesky CO2 debate

The other day, the Mittster decided to get dumb about carbon emissions. I did a little on how CO2 is actually very bad for you individually (since his point was it didn't affect humans, so shouldn't be considered a pollutant). But I wanted to also point to something more disturbing about our CO2 releases that isn't directly related to global climate change. See, CO2 +H2O makes H2CO3, an acid. Where do we have a lot of H2O? Why, in our oceans, of course.

And the oceans absorb a lot of the CO2 we're producing. They act like a buffer. That sound great, until you know how buffers work. There's a tipping point that is eventually reached. But even up to that point, buffers can't absorb all the free H+ floating around. So pH drops. Not as fast as it should, but still it drops.

But the ocean acts as more than a carbon sink. Phytoplankton/algae, besides being the base of the food pyramid, produce prodigious amounts of O2 (from CO2). But they don't produce enough to keep up with all the CO2 the ocean is absorbing. The numbers are still being debated but it's clear the ocean accounts for nearly 50+% (some reports say 70%) of our atmosphere's free oxygen (not to mention suspended O2 in the water).

Guess what doesn't grow so well in acidic oceans.

Sleep tight.

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