Friday, December 08, 2006

climate change, the oceans, yawn

Yes, Phytoplankton Are Important

Research drawing on NASA satellite data shows that climate change may be reducing the stock of photoplankton (tiny sea plants) which fish stocks rely on. In other words, warmer temperatures could bring about an oceanic famine. Fish will grow scarcer -- and that doesn't even take into account the horrendous level of overfishing we humans are engaged in over much of the ocean, using modern industrial techniques designed to catch the last fish, populations and damage to the seabed, coral reefs, and other fish be damned.

So enjoy that fishwich now. And remember -- climate change WILL affect you. There is no excuse for not trying to whatever we can to mitigate the effects. Sure, we don't know the worst case scenario -- but that doesn't mean we just sit and hope that the vibrating tracks, blowing whistle and approaching light don't mean there is a train coming right at us.

I found this article first at the British newspaper The Guardian's website. I see some US papers (Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press) have picked up coverage. Nothing from the Washington Post or New York Times though, which surprises me. I guess potential famine in our oceans just doesn't quite cut it. And I've seen little coverage in the US press about another Guardian story, first reported some time ago, about the possible shutdown of the Gulf Stream, which would chill Europe. I say "possible," but its flow has already declined 30%...

Democrats Soon to Take Stage

And let's hope the Democrats (and sane Republicans like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) can inject some reality into the issue. Outgoing Senate Environment Committee Chair James Inhofe chaired his last committee hearing, and continued to deride climate change as a hoax. (An aside -- who benefits from the hoax?) Inhofe had a couple of lap-dog scientists seconding his case. One was a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma (gosh, I wonder if he relies on the good graces of the senior Senator from Oklahoma for grant funding), the other a marine scientist.

Funny, they aren't climatologists. But the fact that a few scientists here and there argue that climate change isn't happening, or that if it IS, either it will be beneficial (truly a lunatic argument) or there is nothing we can do about it so we should lie on our backs and enjoy it (truly a defeatist argument) doesn't undermine the scientific consensus that is is real, and is a real threat. Hell, there are people who still think the Earth is hollow, and that civilizations live in the center of the Earth -- but that doesn't undermine scientific consensus about the solid nature of the planet.


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