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CO2 ending up in the oceans

Kimmo Klemola
20.01.2005

The physics shows that CO2 contributes substantially to the greenhouse effect. Increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere changes our climate. And there is another problem. Half of the manmade CO2 during industrial era has ended up in the oceans affecting their ecological system. Doing nothing and neglecting should not be an option.

With pessimism I see that there is no real will to do anything for the consumption of fossil fuels. In a relatively short range of time (250 years) most of oil and gas resources will be burned, and the CO2 will end up in the atmosphere and then in slow pace to oceans. So why should we bother doing anything?

Coal is a little different. It will last maybe a thousand years. We do not have to burn all coal   the right place for coal is in the ground. We should have time to find alternatives. And we have alternatives. We should be ready to pay a little more for our electricity.

Oceans as carbon sink

About half of the manmade CO2 since 1850 has ended up in the oceans (back in 1850 there was 280 ppm CO2 in the air). That is mostly positive, because otherwise we would have 480 ppm instead of 380 ppm CO2 in the air. Acidification of oceans, coral reefs disappearing and changes in sealife overall is the other side of the coin. Changing the oceans' ecosystem is a risky business.

Lackner Klaus, Chemistry & Industry, 2004 September 06, Is the ocean a good carbon sink?:

"Climate change may be well established in public consciousness but ocean acidification may prove to be equally serious, says Klaus Lackner, Ewing-Worzel professor of geophysics, earth & environmental engineering, Columbia University, New York."

"Public concern over anthropogenic CO2 emissions has focused almost exclusively on greenhouse gas-driven climate change. Other environmental impacts of CO2 have gone almost unnoticed. But two recent articles in Science reveal that almost half of all CO2 produced by human activities in the past 200 years has found its way into the oceans. Most of it resides near the surface in the top few hundred ..."

Taro Takahashi, The Fate of Industrial Carbon Dioxide, Science, 16 July 2004; 305: 352-353 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1100602]
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/305/5682/352.pdf:

"The Chemical Engineer 2004 August Oceans absorbed half of CO2 emissions."

Christopher L. Sabine, Richard A. Feely, Nicolas Gruber, Robert M. Key, Kitack Lee, John L. Bullister, Rik Wanninkhof, C. S. Wong, Douglas W. R. Wallace, Bronte Tilbrook, Frank J. Millero, Tsung-Hung Peng, Alexander Kozyr, Tsueno Ono, and Aida F. Rios, The Oceanic Sink for Anthropogenic CO2, Science, 16 July 2004; 305: 367-371 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1097403]
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/305/5682/367.pdf

 

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