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Coral Reefs In Grave Danger, Say Climate Simulations 313

Posted by timothy
from the it's-only-a-model dept.
sciencehabit writes "Nearly every coral reef could be dying by 2100 if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue, according to a new review of major climate models from around the world. The only way to maintain the current chemical environment in which reefs now live, the study suggests, would be to deeply cut emissions as soon as possible. It may even become necessary to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, say with massive tree-planting efforts or machines."
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Coral Reefs In Grave Danger, Say Climate Simulations

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  • And look at what's actually happening [wattsupwiththat.com]:

    ... a large scale, natural experiment in Papua New Guinea. There are several places at the eastern end of that country where carbon dioxide is continuously bubbling up through healthy looking coral reef, with fish swimming around and all that that implies.

    Remember when scientists would discard theories when their predictions were wrong? Good times....

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:21AM (#42373759)

    Alarmist much? The *current* coral reefs will die, but new ones will appear at locations where the CO2 level is currently too low for them.

    They are dying much faster than they are growing. It takes decades to centuries to grow a new coral reef from scratch. In the meantime the oceans bioversity would be decimated past the point of no return for many species.

  • by dwywit (1109409) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:53AM (#42373837)

    I like your open-minded approach - no, that's not sarcasm, I mean it. Yes, electricity from nuclear fission is cleaner overall than most other so-called baseload sources. It's still scary when something goes wrong - it doesn't matter about new designs, assurances, technological advances (which ARE impressive) - human fears are a factor, and must be dealt with, whether based on solid evidence, or FUD from greenpeace.
     
    I live off-grid using subsidised solar PV, and a petrol generator for backup when it's rainy. If I was really strict about appliance usage when the weather is less than ideal (e.g. turn off the kids' computers), we wouldn't need the generator very much at all. Let's put aside the environmental impact of manufacturing solar PV for the moment, and focus on whether it's possible to live off-grid with solar PV. Is it possible to continue a high-energy-consumption lifestyle with old-style incandescent light bulbs, air-conditioning, electric clothes dryers, electric dishwashers, electric coffee-makers, electric ovens and stovetops? No, it's not. Is it possible to minimise your consumption of fossil fuels and still enjoy life? Hells yeah. No aircon, occasional use of the clothes dryer run directly off the generator, wood-fired stove (also supplies hot water and heating), hand-wash dishes while listening to internet radio, 2-3 major appliances at any one time, e.g. 2 computers and a washing machine, or vacuum cleaner and washing machine, etc. It can work, if you want it to. Right now, I'm typing this on a laptop, on a sunday evening, listening to internet radio (B.B. King, if you're interested) via another laptop amplified through an old boombox, my daughter is watching some silly movie on Nickleodeon on a 55" LCD TV, sourced via a HD decoder from a satellite dish, my wife is playing minecraft on her laptop with an external 24" LCD screen, and my son is doing the facebook thing on his iPad - it's about 5:45pm, so house lights will be coming on soon - they're a mix of 24VDC halogen, and 240VAC CFL. All it takes is willpower, and (gratefully acknowledged) Govt subsidised PV - yes, I DO pay my taxes, BTW. Mind you, even if it the gear wasn't subsidised, it still would have been cheaper than getting the mains extended to my place.
     
    Not the right solution for everyone, obviously, but saying it can't be done is simply not true.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2012 @06:14AM (#42374153)

    How do you think coral survived 7000ppm CO2?

    The first corals were soft bodied, which probably helped.

    "8th December 2010 13:24 GMT - A group of top NASA and NOAA scientists say that current climate models predicting global warming are far too gloomy, and have failed to properly account for an important cooling factor which will come into play as CO2 levels rise.

    If instead of relying on The Register you went to the NASA source for that [nasa.gov], you'd find this quote:

    Bounoua stressed that while the model's results showed a negative feedback, it is not a strong enough response to alter the global warming trend that is expected

    See also: There are winners and losers among corals under the accumulating impacts of climate change

    The issue there is that different corals play massively different roles in a reef and in the growth and survival of reef-associated organisms. You can't just replace coral A with coral B and expect everything to be fine. As the authors themselves put it: "many of these novel coral reef communities are likely to lack contemporary analogs, with unknown but potentially far-reaching consequences for the ecology and evolution of reef organisms". In other words, the coral reefs could change massively but we can't predict what the reef ecology will be like afterwards. Bearing in mind that reefs are some of the most biodiverse habitats and that they're critical for ocean life in general that's something to worry about. For all we know the new reef systems could be dominated by a coral which doesn't support the fish and shellfish which we can make use of.

  • Re:A wake up call (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:21AM (#42374409)
    I was skeptical until I looked at the evidence. I'm now convinced of anthropogenic climate change. The people who think that dumping hundreds of thousands of different chemicals, many in large quantities, into our air, water, and soil WON'T cause significant change to our climate are simply being naive.
  • Re:Good Grief. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rally2xs (1093023) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:45AM (#42374481)

    Stop spewing CO2 into the air? How do you do that? Mass genocide? People _need_ the energy we get from these sources of CO2 you want to stop in order to live. We cannot support the population of the USA while going back to farming without fossil-based fertilizers and working the land with animals instead of powerful fossil-fueled tractors, or moving the proceeds of that farming with diesel trucks and locomotives to get it to market. We cannot go about our lives at the standard of living you talk about without burning fossil fuels in the only modes of conveyance that we own. The idiotic AGW alarmists were telling us 10 years ago that we had to spend $50 trillion to "mitigate" this problem and the resultant scheme would only have lowererd the temperature increase by a degree or degree and a half by the year 2100, and not really fix the problem. No one has even proposed an actual way to completely fix the problem. But no matter, they want to spend more money than we have to continue their doomed-to-failure schemes.

    But geo-engineering such as this approach:

    http://phys.org/news199005915.html [phys.org]

    goes unpurseud because, if it worked, it'd wreck things for those attempting to gain control of everyone's lives (and money) with their scarecrow. That approach would, if actually developed, give us pre-industrial-revolution levels of CO2. That would be a disaster for the doomsayers, and so we don't hear a peep about making it work. No, lets just get rid of our cars, take public transportation, and go back to living in caves.

    Anyone really serious about fixing the problem would get their PHD's in some STEM areas of study, get their butts into some laboratories, and start trying to make things like those work, as well as, politically, stop trying to wreck the world's economies by opposing absolutely everything we try to do to make our lives better and promote the prosperity that will provide the abundance of resources necessary to actually develop ways to stop using CO2 generting energy sources. IOW, we're not going to successfully develop solar electricity, distribute it all over the country, develop the magic battery to make electric cars really viable, and so forth if we're crawling around in poverty because some environmental pinheads have made energy unavailable by opposing coal we could use now to keep energy cheap, and fracking we can use now to keep energy cheap, and million-volt power distribution we could start building now to distribute future solar power, and all the advancements necessary to maybe someday do what the AGW alarmists want to do. Make everyone poor by building idiotic high speed rail at millions of dollars per mile that nobody's going to ride and will require gov't subsidies infinitely into the future, and you take away money for research on how to do the very things you want to do that may actually, maybe, someday be able to solve the problem. Prosperity is our best weapon to combat the problem technologically, but everything the AGW alarmists are doing work to diminish our chances of actually being successful by removing the monetary resources necessary for the research to solve the problem.

  • Don't believe the ignorant hype. Hemp is a heavy feeder. It depletes the soil of Nitrogen in particular. Switch to hemp? We need to switch away from cotton, but not to hemp. We should be researching fabrics made from plastics made from the oils in algae, which can be grown on seawater or dirty water and which don't even need to be GMO'd because nature has already evolved so many different algaes to fill so many different niches. You just put out a pond about a foot deep (algae depend in insolation) and stir it and you get algae.

  • Re:Good Grief. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kenorland (2691677) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @10:34AM (#42374855)

    Doesn't it bother you that the news is starting to look like the introduction to Sunshine or similarly apocalyptic movies? That there are very serious issues with our entire food chain? That there are very serious issues with the ability to sustain our current standards of living if we go on like this?

    No, it doesn't bother me in the least. People have predicted mass starvation and the collapse of civilization for a long time (cf Malthus), and technological progress has always prevented that. In fact, it was the challenge caused by hitting resource limits that forced humanity to make progress and improve its living standards, and it has done so every time. I do not want to live in a sustainable society, and I have confidence that human ingenuity is up to the task of solving whatever problems global warming may cause.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

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