WMO report on more pollution

By JW Dowey - 10 Sep 2014 7:42:1 GMT
WMO report on more pollution

The pristine corals of Indonesia are still preserved from the effects of tourist feet, but can they build a calcium carbonate skeleton if the water becomes even more acid? Raja Ampat image; Credit: © Shutterstock

While others prepare for the UN conference later this month, the WMO has its annual report on pollutants out, with an addition on ocean acidification. This tells us of nearly 150% rises in CO2 since 1750 (250% in methane!) and warns of consequences again. With last year's figures (2012-2013) on carbon dioxide rising at the fastest rate since the 80s, possibly because of the living world (plants) reducing their intake. For whatever, reason, that must be the most significant figure to the upcoming New York conference.

The whole worth of this reporting is debatable, but the news media have reported this one en masse. Maybe they want to brace us for the UN conference. With only 50% of the CO2 emissions creating the atmospheric rise, we can only hope the oceans and the plants keep on absorbing it. They can't of course, so eventually we are faced with even bigger rises, unless one thing happens. It's no longer a matter of cutting emissions. We have to stop them, as it takes centuries to remove the gases from our atmosphere again.

Here is our current collection of articles on Greenhouse Gases. Removing the sources should be a priority. But it isn't. Among many others, Poland and South Africa regard the cheapest coal as good alternatives to saving the environment, while the US and Australia gleefully export it so that newer industries such as shale oil can be exploited. Oil and gas are burnt in almost everyone's home for cooking and heating and the transport we use is rarely as green as we think it is.

All this has to change, not simply continue as another form of fossil fueling!

Wendy Watson-Wright is the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. Her ideas are that the inclusion of a section on ocean acidification in this issue of WMO's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin is appropriate and needed. "It is high time the ocean, as the primary driver of the planet's climate and attenuator of climate change, becomes a central part of climate change discussions." For 300 million years, the sea has never been this acidic, due to the carbonic acid from CO. Most of the animals in the sea suffer effects on their development, with the largest measurable effect being on coral, shells and other calcium-based parts of their metabolism. We mustn't omit study of the marine plants either, especially the essential plankton.

As an addendum, the acidification of oceans is very relevant, but scientifically, the effects of greenhouse gas emissions should always have included two-thirds of our planet surface. Our climate studies need to include these factors simply because oceans are primary drivers of the climate. For reference, here is the WMO press release.