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July 10, 2006

Global Warming

OCEANS THREATENED BY CARBON DIOXIDE INCREASE: Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is dramatically altering ocean chemistry and threatening marine life, according to a report released on July 5th by government and independent scientists. It warns that marine organisms that secrete skeletal structures, such as corals and pteropods (marine snails), may be profoundly affected by the rising acidification of surface ocean waters. Between 1800 and 1994, the report says, the oceans absorbed 118 billion metric tons of CO2 measured as carbon. Now they are absorbing 2 billion metric tons per year, about 30% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuel. This added CO2 has already increased the hydrogen ion concentration of the surface ocean by 30% and is predicted to increase it 150% relative to the preindustrial level by 2100. As Fishes the acidity rises, the availability of carbonate in the ocean decreases. By 2100, the calcification rates for coral and other creatures that build skeletons from calcium carbonate will decrease by up to 60%, the report says. "It is clear that seawater chemistry will change in coming decades and centuries in ways that will dramatically alter marine life," says Joan Kleypas, the report's lead author and a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "It is vital to develop research strategies to better understand the long-term vulnerabilities of sensitive marine organisms to these changes." Chemical & Engineering News, 07/10/06, p. 9.

U.S. CO2 emissions from energy sources increased only slightly (0.1%) from 5.903 billion metric tons in 2004 to 5.909 billion metric tons in 2005, according to a preliminary estimate from the Energy Information Administration. Emissions from natural gas and oil fell, while those from coal rose. Chemical & Engineering News, 07/10/06, p. 17.


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