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Key West Reactor front page article (under slightly different headline)
[Published in Key West The Newspaper on November 18, 2011.]
We’re All Gonna Die
In the last century, the seas around our island have risen 9 inches. In the rest of this century, if no change happens, the seas will rise over three FEET around us – could be as high as seven feet! Needless to say, the Keys as we know them will cease to exist. This is a fact. There is no global conspiracy of liberal scientists making this up to get more funding (or whatever other nefarious political reason Beck or Rush can dream up). Sometime in the not-distant future all of our real estate value will disappear.
But that’s NOT the biggest thing we must worry about! We need to worry about DYING. No joke.
While everyone has been entranced with Cain’s peccadilloes, Jersey culture and royal marriages, a lot of good science has been going on. Even the Koch brothers’ own bought and paid-for climatologist, after a two year study, has admitted that the science is valid. Human impacts to our climate – especially green house gas emissions — are pushing us dangerously toward an unsustainable future. I’m just sayin’.
Actually, thousands of scientific researchers and analysts are just sayin’ it. We risk global catastrophe if we ignore what’s happening – we are gambling with the very air that we breathe. No shit! You just have to connect the dots……
Phytoplankton (microscopic plant life) in our seas is the food of the microscopic zooplankton (animal life) that virtually all baby fish and many other sea creatures feed on. Less phytoplankton -> less zooplankton -> less fish. It’s that simple. Anything that interferes with the phytoplankton risks the entire marine food-chain — the food-chain that provides an enormous component of our global HUMAN food-source.
And even more ominous: the phytoplankton provides close to 70% of the oxygen we breath! It converts far more of our atmosphere’s carbon dioxide into oxygen than trees do. There is so much phytoplankton in our seas that it dwarfs the effects of even the rainforests.
So what’s going on with the phytoplankton? Large areas of our oceans are becoming the equivalent of dry-land deserts through a process known as “ocean desertification”. This happens because natural shallow-water to deep-water and back to shallow-water currents that move nutrients around are being interfered with. The warm-water currents near the surface must cool to sink into the depths and push nutrient-rich deep water up to support the phytoplankton. But those currents are being altered due to global climate change.
There has been a whopping 40% decline in phytoplankton since the 1950s, almost completely attributable to global warming. Result: less fish, and more importantly LESS OXYGEN. If this decline is not arrested, WE WILL DIE.
Our sea temperature has risen 2 degrees in that scant half-century, far, far beyond the natural average. Bluefin Tuna (can you say “Sushi”?) are already starting to become scarce in the Atlantic. They migrate to areas where the baitfish they feed on are concentrating due to increased surface temperatures. Because the massive numbers of tuna remain close to the surface in these areas, commercial fishing fleets drop mile-long very deep nets and pull in every swimming fish. The bluefin is already greatly overfished, and this will only get worse.
We haven’t even discussed acidification of our oceans, coral bleaching, melting ice caps, red tides or many other by-products of our careless ways, but all of those will get worse if left unattended.
Rising sea temperature will at a minimum cause submersion of our Keys and give us less fish to feed our masses. At worst it will kill us due to dropping oxygen levels. The indisputable climate record shows that we’re increasing the temperature faster than ever in the history of the planet. The climate changes we’re witnessing typically take thousands of years. But humans are now driving us through it within a century or so. We must not stick our heads in the sand and ignore this.
What can we do?
Sea temperature falls VERY slowly. On its own it can take THOUSANDS of years to drop just 1 degree. All that we can do to clean up our mess at this point is work to stop the deadly increase — because WE are the ones causing it. Spending time chanting, “It’s China’s fault. It’s India’s fault.” will do little to help. We have to do what WE can – NOW. And in the meantime try hard to help convince everyone else to do the same.
The number one thing we can all do: don’t put ANYBODY into power who won’t even admit that we have a problem. No matter what your politics are, doing so will NOT pay off. It’ll only serve to speed the day of reckoning. It will certainly make us parties to our own slaughter.
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