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We’re bleaching ourselves as dead and white as the coral reefs


It’s not hard to write about the effects of climate change. So much has been written about it over the last decade. Al Gore now has a sequel to his famous slide show, An Inconvenient Truth. If you’ve seen it, you’ve heard the basics. Things are bad and getting worse.

Nearly a decade ago when I worked in the marine science industry, one of the things I learned was the effects of CO2 on the oceans. In case you didn’t know, the oceans absorb a lot of the carbon we produce. About 26 percent as a matter of fact (though some sources report more than 30 percent). Plants take up another 28 percent and the rest—46 percent—we pump into the atmosphere. So the oceans absorb 2.5 billion tonnes of the 9.3 billion tonnes of carbon humans emit. That is simply an astonishing amount of fossil fuel waste. Every year.

A couple of other interesting things are happening. First, the more carbon we load into our oceans, the less the oceans can absorb. Meaning more carbon remains in the atmosphere, speeding gl…

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