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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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  • RT (WHOLE) FA (Score:4, Informative)

    by scanman1 (763052) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @02:02AM (#42373531)

    "There is a very wide coral response to omega—some are able to internally control the [relevant] chemistry," says Rau, who has collaborated with Caldeira in the past but did not participate in this research. Those tougher coral species could replace more vulnerable ones "rather than a wholesale loss" of coral. "

    I guess his views were not in line with the study, so his results were not included.

    • Re:RT (WHOLE) FA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @04:43AM (#42373931)

      If you want to RT (WHOLE) FA then why did you stop quoting him before the end of the paragraph where he said:

      "[But] an important point made by [Caldeira] is that corals have had many millions of years of opportunity to extend their range into low omega waters. With rare exception they have failed. What are the chances that they will adapt to lowering omega in the next 100 years?"

      QT (WHOLE) FQ! Did the last note of warning and agreement with the study not fit with your message of excluding the dissenting scientist? What is more likely: that the part about them working together previously was some hidden way of saying that Rau was censored or that he was giving full disclosure of a prior relationship? Conspiracy theory or standard (and best) practice?

      • Re:RT (WHOLE) FA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tp1024 (2409684) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:17AM (#42374005)

        Lack of necessity.

        Sardines had hundreds of millions of years to extent their range into freshwater, yet they didn't. It was only when a swarm of sardines got trapped in what is today Lake Taal, which used to be just another part of the Pacific Ocean. It became a lake only in the 1750ies, when a volcanic eruption cut it off from the ocean and rain turned saltwater into freshwater in a matter of decades.

        Those decades were sufficient to do what hundreds of millions of years had not managed to do, because it had never been necessary. In 100,000 years, all evidence of happened in lake taal will have been erazed by the same geologic processes that gave rise to all of that in the first place.

        The assumed stagnation and lethargy of the evolution of species is an artifact of processes that conserve their traces now accessible to us. Unless a species is pervasive and somehow amenable to be conserved over geologic time spans within the environment they live in, it will irrecoverably be lost to history.

        Our biosphere survived several ICE AGES. Looking out of the window I see landscape that was covered with hundreds of meters of ice a (geologically) very short time ago and has undergone numerous radical climate changes, yet, failed completely to become a dead wasteland for any appreciable time once the ice retreated.

        • Species die all the time.
          It's not necessity- its lack of any open spot to expand into.
          Those ecological niches are full.

      • First, "rare exceptions" is all you need; these corals could take over the niches left by other corals.

        Second, earth's oceans have become more acidic before. It's a different ocean, but not necessarily a worse one. And we know that corals come back eventually.

      • "[But] an important point made by [Caldeira] is that corals have had many millions of years of opportunity to extend their range into low omega waters. With rare exception they have failed. What are the chances that they will adapt to lowering omega in the next 100 years?"

        Wait ... I've been to a few islands where they say that the basic limestone structure of the island is built from ancient coral reefs that formed the limestone over millions of years.

        We also know that atmospheric CO2 has been up at least a

        • The problem with the whole climate change thing is not that it will get hotter than ever before or that the oceans will become more acidic than it has ever been. The problem is that it is happening too quickly for the fauna and flora to adapt. Changes that have previously taken thousands of years are happening in hundreds.

          History has shown that when there is a sudden change due to things like massive volcano explosions or meteor strikes that the effect on the species around it can be devestating. If you pre

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @02:10AM (#42373549)

    This should make the so-called skeptics pay attention as it represents a very real danger to people. Those broken up bits of dead coral can really cut your face when you bury your head in the sand.

  • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And from the abstract of the actual paper [nature.com] referred to by the wuwt page :

      "...Our empirical data from this unique field setting confirm model predictions that ocean acidification, together with temperature stress, will probably lead to severely reduced diversity, structural complexity and resilience of Indo-Pacific coral reefs within this century."

      Remember when non-experts would actually listen to scientists rather than cherry pick what they wanted to hear? Good times...

    • You link to the site of an outed Heartland Institute shill, not to mention a clearly non-scientific denialist? Haha what a fucking sheep you are, an intellectual slave.

  • I find it very upsetting that there is an abundance of people that are concerned about the CO2 output but very few that take the time to investigate and lobby for solutions that won't drive us back into the stone age. The only solution that we have now, with no need for new technological advancements, is nuclear power. We have not built a new nuclear power plant here in the USA for something like four decades. Those that are still running are undoubtedly reaching the end of their safe and profitable lifespan.

    Alternatives like wind, solar, and bio-mass take considerable amounts of land. This land is expensive and competes with other vital needs like food. I recall a solar power plant that could not produce enough electricity to pay it's property taxes. They were allowed a discounted rate on the tax but they still went out of business since they couldn't pay their other bills. Bio-mass is a direct competitor to food as any land that can grow a plant suitable for energy is also land that is suitable to grow food. There just is not enough land, water, and sun to both feed us and provide our power needs. There might be enough to both fill our tummies and our fuel tanks on our vehicles but the biggest producer of CO2 is not our vehicles, it's our coal fired power plants.

    Wind might some day be competitive with coal and be profitable. The problem with wind, as well as geothermal and hydro, is that it is highly sensitive to location. Wind power can share land with things like food crops but it shares a weakness with solar power, it is highly sensitive to weather.

    There's a part of me that thinks this scare over CO2 output is largely a hoax. There is a part of me that just doesn't care. What I do want to see is all this arguing to stop and people put some real solutions to work. I want them to STFU and build some nuclear power plants already. I can see a perfect spot for one from my front door. It has a rail nearby, a small river flowing by for cooling water, and a ready market in the city that I can see from my back door. My only concern is that a power plant so close might shade my house.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Because the powers that push the movement are less concerned with CO2 as much as they want to push humanity down the technological hole. Closing off all power sources. They are the modern day Luddites.

      • No, it's merely that we don't wish to hand over perpetual control over our power supply to GE any more than we want to hand the entire future of agriculture over to Monsanto.

        But you guys never stop to think about that angle, do you?

        Or perhaps you'd prefer that it not occur to us...

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          The math works out to where we could solve all the problems with distributed PV today. But instead, we get sanctions against cheap PV and the government stepping in to place barriers to distributed power generation. Someone has to own the generation, what would we do if we all generated enough for everyone?
      • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Sunday December 23, 2012 @07:39AM (#42374335)

        My push to the movement is very very small, but I can assure you that I am not a Luddite. Except when it comes to coal fired power plants and electronic voting.

        Feel free to build as many nuclear or solar or wind power plants as you want. Solar will hopefully make electricity so cheap that we won't have to worry about wasting it. If rain forest has to be destroyed to make room for people, then so be it, the Earth is not a museum.

        Just don't ruin it all so that the next generation has an impossible clean up task to do. We have enough trouble today with dealing with the land fills of the last generation; just a little more forethought then would have saved a lot of effort now. Forcing the next generation to extract coal from the air so they can stick it back into mines is really stupid.

      • by will_die (586523)
        Saying that they are pushing to be Luddites is wrong. If you listen to their speeches and teaching they are aiming for an agrarian paradise such as given by Saloth Sar.
        However the teaching does pay well, all these people, excluding the followers, live in huge or expensive houses and mansions.
    • 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.

      • Personally I live less than 50 miles from the largest nuclear power facility in the US, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't know why it would bother anybody else either.

    • You got a lot wrong in your comment, but let's consider only the thing concerning nuclear power generation:
      - with all the mining, processing and delivering of fuel plus the ridiculous amounts of concrete required for safe reactor building the CO2e/W of nuclear is approaching that of coal. - nuclear power is generated by huge units, 100's MW, so when they go offline (and they do, eventually) you need a lot of backup power, and it can't be nuclear since it has to be available at moments notice. - there are
    • They're pretty much the same people who oppose wind turbines because they kill birds, and oppose solar panels because they use plastic. It's simultaneously these people who make the environmentalist movement less attractive to outsiders. Also, and this is some good irony for you, is that the people who tend to be anti-environmentalism also tend to favor nuclear power, which includes a lot of prominent republicans. They get shunned for that though, because it favors corporations who would profit from nuclear

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The only solution that we have now, with no need for new technological advancements, is nuclear power.

      You are too ignorant to be permitted to leave comments on this topic unchallenged.

      Alternatives like wind, solar, and bio-mass take considerable amounts of land.

      In the case of wind and solar, this is an outright lie, and you are an outright liar. Wind has a tiny footprint. The land used for wind generation can be used for agriculture or running cattle. You are lying about wind, so you are a liar. Solar can be installed on rooftops, where it has zero footprint. It can even be done fairly easily and cheaply on most commercial roofs. Oddly Wal-Mart is one of the few corporations which ha

      • by blindseer (891256)

        Bull fucking shit. For one reason or another you have a dog in this fight, and that dog is nuclear power, and you are willing to tell lies to support it. You are a liar, and you should STFU and tell the truth already.

        My "dog in this fight" is my utility bills. My costs for food, fuel, clothing, and shelter (you know, those things we need to survive) are going up all the time. Much of this cost is based on regulations. These regulations are, IMHO, based on some really shaky science. This shaky science includes global warming from human activity and the hazards of nuclear power.

        I did a lot of reading on the advancements in energy technology. I found out a lot of interesting things about them. One thing that sticks o

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      Alternatives like wind, solar, and bio-mass take considerable amounts of land.

      Solar requires zero land. Distributed PV would meet all our power needs and take no undeveloped or agricultural land.

      Wind might some day be competitive with coal and be profitable. The problem with wind, as well as geothermal and hydro, is that it is highly sensitive to location. Wind power can share land with things like food crops but it shares a weakness with solar power, it is highly sensitive to weather.

      The biggest problem is that people don't consider combinations. Use the location-based source that makes sense. Don't argue against tidal generation because it won't work in Kansas. Then argue against geothermal in Florida, where there isn't a good location. Wind will work in Kansas, and tidal in Florida. Use what you can where you can, and we can fix the problem today.

      Instead, lots of

  • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:29AM (#42373783) Journal
    Trap all that carbon in clothing, acid free art paper, hempcrete, hemp fiber composites, etc... :)
    • acid free art paper

      That would take all the fun out of growing weed.

      Hemp grown with grain fungus . . . what an intriguing idea for a new product.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      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

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Perhaps you're the ignorant one? Let's see, spend billions in research that will probably lead nowhere except patents and rampant capitilization, or let's use something that can be done immediately and save billions. Yup, given past stupidity, we can be sure which path the US will take.

        BTW, hemp, i.e, cannabis for fiber, is NOT a heavy feeder, you don't even have to feed it! No food, no watering, no pesticides, no herbicides, dirt-poor soil, no chemicals to pollute the water supply to make paper, etc...

  • meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Sunday December 23, 2012 @04:00AM (#42373863) Homepage

    They overlooked the part in their model where more acidic seas dissolve existing carbonate faster. Nature recycles. How do you think coral survived 7000ppm CO2?

    http://rs79.vrx.net/opinions/ideas/climate/.images/Evo_large.gif [vrx.net]

    They've overlooked simple biomechanics before: "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.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/08/new_model_doubled_co2_sub_2_degrees_warming/ [theregister.co.uk]

    See also: There are winners and losers among corals under the accumulating impacts of climate change, according to a new scientific study. In the world’s first large-scale investigation of how climate affects the composition of coral reefs, an international team of marine scientists concludes that the picture is far more complicated than previously thought - but that total reef losses due to climate change are unlikely. Ref: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(12)00255-2 [cell.com]"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 sho

  • The article starts by making the statement that the "CO2 emissions" are responsible for the climate change. The nuance in this study is the inclusion of a new feature: "... include simulations of how ocean chemistry would interact with an atmosphere with higher carbon dioxide levels in the future". So the sources of error are the corelation of 'emissions' to climate changes AND the modeling of the interaction of CO2 with the ocean (and coral's hardiness in the face of change). The latter two in particula

    • by jfengel (409917)

      Absolutely. In the meantime, I highly recommend driving without a seatbelt. You can put it on once the collision is underway.

  • Jacques Cousteau told the world decades ago. We didn't listen, we won't listen now. Only when the oceans are dead will we wake up. Fat lot of good that will do.
  • I am in no way a climate scientist, so if someone could please explain this article to me, I would appreciate it.

    1) It says "Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100" but then the first sentence is that "Nearly every coral reef could be dying by 2100 if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue" - decimation is 1/10, significantly different from "nearly every". Is this just sloppy language or which is correct?

    2) The article says "No precise rule of thumb exists to link that figure and the health of ree

    • by jfengel (409917)

      "Decimation" is commonly taken to mean "complete or near-complete destruction". Yes, it's etymologically wrong. Get over it.

  • already known that seeding ocean with iron will cause huge increase in plankton, which cuases huge increase in fish population. the plankton take carbon to the bottom of the sea in their shells when they die (as they always have). Carbon is thus removed from the atmosphere, and the ocean. problem solved. already tested on small scale and entirely natural

  • It is really very grave!!! OK... MAYBE!

    Simulation is a software fed with some input data, then said software performs calculations, iterations, and so on.

    If political agenda is part of input data, then whole simulation becomes a lot trickier. It is tricky from start - as we assume software writer had good model, programmed without errors... When input data is biased towards particular political goal, then all bets are off. And anybody following whole climate "discussion" knows how objectivity is long dead.

    N

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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