More denial of natural selection.
For Jason Hall-Spencer, a patch of seafloor off Italy’s coast is a time machine.
The site’s volcanic vents bubble jets of carbon dioxide into ocean water, creating an unusually acidic environment that anticipates shifts scientists believe will occur in the wider ocean as CO2 emissions rise.
Hall-Spencer, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth, is studying the site in Italy, and similar CO2 seeps in Baja California and Papua New Guinea, in an effort to understand how ocean acidification will affect marine life. He presented his findings here last weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“If you roll into the water at these vent systems, you see this Jacuzzi of bubbles,” Hall-Spencer says. “That’s the CO2. You can pick somewhere on the gradient where it reflects what the global ocean is going to be like in five years time, or 10 years time, or 50 years time — something that’s almost impossible to do in a lab.”
The world’s oceans have absorbed about a third of the CO2 humans have released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, making seawater 30 percent more acidic than it was then.
“Right now, we’re increasing CO2 levels and temperatures anywhere from 100 to 200 times faster than anything we’ve seen over the last 800,000 years,” said Richard Feely, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “And it’s at least 10 times faster than we’ve seen over the past 50 million years.”
Researchers believe that ocean acidification could eventually scramble ocean ecosystems, making it harder for sea creatures like oysters, coral and plankton to grow their hard, chalky shells.
A hint of that future is evident at Hall-Spencer’s three vent sites, “giant laboratories” where pH conditions match what scientists expect to happen in the larger ocean in decades to come.
“The trouble is that they are all showing exactly the same thing,” he said. “If you increase CO2 to the level expected by the end of this century, you get a 30 percent drop in biodiversity”…
Though the ocean is becoming less basic (“acidification” is alarmist rhetoric) is seems to be doing so very slowly, there by allowing the process of natural selection to work its wonders.
If sealife was sensitive to slight pH changes, it would never survive a storm.