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Pollution to devastate shellfish by turning seas acidic
14/03/09
source : Richard Alleyne  Daily telegraph


Pollution to devastate shellfish by turning seas acidic Pollution is making the seas so acidic that it could devastate aquatic life, scientists claim. By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent in Copenhagen Last Updated: 5:50PM GMT 10 Mar 2009 Scallops: The study, by scientists at Bristol University, presented at a climate summit in Copenhagen, predicts 'dangerous' levels of ocean acidification Photo: CHRISTOPHER JONES The rapid change in ocean acidity, caused by carbon dioxide from cars and factories dissolving in the water, is placing "unprecedented" pressure on marine life, especially shellfish. The study, by scientists at Bristol University, presented at a climate summit in Copenhagen, predicts "dangerous" levels of ocean acidification. Related Articles Greenhouse gases are turning oceans acidic Oceans turning acidic decades earlier Global warming 'cure' found by scientists Mussels face extinction as oceans turn acidic Acidic oceans threaten marine lifeIt claimed that will have a severe consequences for organisms called marine calcifiers, which need alkaline conditions to form chalky shells. This in turn will devastate the food chain in a way not seen since prehistoric times. The research said: “We find the future rate of surface ocean acidification and environmental pressure on marine calcifiers very likely unprecedented in the past 65 million years.” The scientists add that the situation in the deep sea is of even “greater concern”. The scientists compared the current acidification rate with a giant prehistoric release of greenhouse gas, which geologists know caused widespread extinction of deep water species. ”Because the rates of acidification between past and future are comparable, and [because] there was widespread extinction of benthic organisms [lowest living], one must conclude that a similar level of extinction is more likely than not in the future,” they added. Meanwhile the conference also heard that sea levels could rise twice as much as previously predicted, with low-lying coastal areas which are home to around a tenth of the world's population likely to be flooded. According to scientists, large areas of the Norfolk Broads and Thames estuary are likely to vanish under sea by 2100 and cities such as London and Hull will need new flood defences. The researchers also said countries such as Bangladesh and Burma and areas including South East Asia and Africa would be most at risk from sea level rises, which could exceed 3ft(1 metre) and are unlikely to be less than 20ins (50cm). Responding to the research, Rob Bailey, climate change policy advisor for Oxfam, said: "These startling new predictions on sea-level rise spell disaster for millions of the world's poorest people. "Poor coastal communities in countries such as Bangladesh are already struggling to cope with a changing climate and it can only get worse. "This must be a wake-up call for rich countries are not doing anywhere near enough to prevent these cataclysmic predictions becoming a reality. "Rich countries, which created the climate crisis, must cut their emissions by at least 40% by 2020 and provide the 50 billion dollars needed to help the world's poorest people adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change."
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