Do you enjoy eating lobster, oysters, seafood, or walking along the seashore and picking-up seashells? If so, then the state of our oceans is going to curtail at least one of your pleasures.
Burning over 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, daily, on our planet is significantly disrupting the climate and all wild ecosystems whether they are under the sea or on mountaintops.
As rising levels of CO2 are absorbed by the oceans' phytoplankton -- which account for about 30 percent of Earth's natural CO2 processing -- they are becoming acidic (as CO2 is absorbed carbonic acid is released). The oceans are now acidifying faster than any time over the past 300 million years. Furthermore, as ocean currents warm, upwelling which carries essential nutrients are prevented, and 40 percent of Earth's phytoplankton -- the base of the entire ocean food chain -- is missing.
According to Professor Jean-Pierre Gattuso of the National Center for Scientific Research in France the Arctic Ocean is becoming so acidic it will dissolve shells of sea creatures within 10 years.
Plants on land are also showing scientists very clearly just how quickly temperatures are disrupting life-processes. For instance, since the 1970s the high elevation glacier lilies of western North America are now flowering 17 days earlier. Broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate north from Central America, timing their arrival to the first glacier lily blooms. These birds are no longer synchronized to the mountain plants that sustain them. They are arriving too late. A climate-driven mismatch is denying the glacier lily nectar -- a crucial food source -- to broad-tailed hummingbirds and their offspring.
As if this weren't disturbing enough, temperatures have risen so dramatically in the southern Rocky Mountains that tree-killing mountain pine beetles living in Colorado, which normally reproduce just once annually, are now breeding two generations within one year. Bark beetles have already killed billions of mature trees (which are now decomposing and adding greenhouse gases to an ever-rising atmospheric pool) across western North America -- and their swath of destruction continues to accelerate.
Earth's natural CO2 absorbing systems are shutting down e.g. phytoplankton and forests, and vividly showing scientists grim pictures of the dire consequence of rising, heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Global Warming is a citizen's issue; that means each of us is required to lend a helping hand.
Buildings and industrial facilities cause 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in America. The most prudent and economical solution is to become more energy efficient. Each of us can easily reduce/lighten our carbon footprint and save money.
Step one is to calculate your carbon footprint. The average home emits about twice as much CO2 compared to the average car. An energy audit will save you as much as 30 percent on your yearly bills. Most utility companies throughout America offer a free walk-through to help you save money.
Step two: please consider making these simple changes, save a couple thousand dollars (or more) a year; and help protect shellfish, seafood and Earth's precious environment.
Earth Dr. Reese Halter is a distinguished conservation biologist, award-winning science communicator and author of The Incomparable Honeybee and The Insatiable Bark Beetle.