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Global sunscreen won't save corals
Date:6/16/2009

et as expected,,and it also slightly slowed the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, as more carbon was absorbed by natural sinks. But this slight change was not enough to significantly mitigate ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification rivals global warming as a threat to marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs, which need to be surrounded with mineral-saturated water in order to grow. Rising levels of carbon dioxide make seawater more acidic, leading to lower mineral saturation. Recent research has indicated that continued carbon dioxide emissions will cause coral reefs to begin dissolving within a few decades, putting the survival of these ecosystems at extreme risk.

Geoengineering's minimal effect on ocean acidification adds another factor to the debate over the advisability of intentionally tampering with the climate system. Some see geoengineering as a possibly necessary response to the prospect of devastating climate change caused by increased human emission of greenhouse gases. Others see it as reckless tinkering with the planet's complex and finely tuned climate system that could do more harm than good.

"Geoengineering approaches come with all sorts of risks," says Caldiera. "It is important we learn about the the full set of these risks and all of their implications." He considers deep cuts in human emissions of carbon dioxide to be the most effective safeguard against a global environmental crisis. "One of the good reasons to prefer CO2 emissions reductions over geoengineering is that CO2 emissions reductions will protect the oceans from the threat of ocean acidification, whereas these geoengineering options will not."


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Contact: Ken Caldeira
kcaldeira@ciw.edu
650-704-7212
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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