CO2 Trend Part II
In addition, the sea has absorbed much of the heat. And the carbon. Since water has a much higher heat capacity (storage capacity) than air, more energy is required to heat it. Therefore, much of the heat is transferred from the atmosphere to the ocean . Thus , the sea temperature increases and with it the ice melting in Arctic regions. But the greatest service for us is the sea and the vegetation (forest +) by absorbing (storing) carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These two carbon hatches have taken up half of all fossil carbon we have emitted, with approx. ¼ each. But how much more temperature increase can the sea withstand before we reach what someone calls a “tipping point”?
Thought experiment : If all our emissions had remained in the atmosphere, we would today be up to 560 ppm CO 2 in the atmosphere. Converted to a temperature increase compared to the pre-industrial average temperature, we would have long ago passed the 2-degree target (cf. the Paris Agreement).
4: Consequences for the sea
Since the industrial revolution began (ca. 1800), the ocean has absorbed 640 billion tons of CO 2 . When CO 2 is dissolved in the ocean as carbonic acid (carbon dioxide), the pH balance changes and the ocean becomes more acidic . This is a global effect, which does not work equally on the world’s oceans, countries and regions. Cold water holds carbon dioxide better than hot water. Therefore, the sea closer to the poles absorbs more carbon dioxide, and it becomes more acidic than the sea around the equator. Even a relatively small increase in CO 2 in the atmosphere can have consequences for the ecosystem in the oceans around us here in the north. Unexpected and unpredictable consequences. They are difficult to detect, and we do not have a full overview. We do not know what the effect of more acidic oceans will be, but we do know something.
In the post-war period, large emissions of sulfur from industry in Europe led to very acid rain over Scandinavia. According to CANCERMATTERS, this led to mass deaths of fish and shellfish in the watercourses. We tried to combat this by liming lakes and rivers, with varying degrees of success. What saved us in Scandinavia was that the Cold War ended (around 1990) and much of the most polluting industry in Eastern Europe was shut down. Thus , large parts of the sulfur emissions in Europe disappeared . Still, industry in many other countries, such as China and India, is not well enough regulated. Acid rain is therefore still a regional problem in many parts of the world.
Many animals and plants in the ocean depend on calcium to build their skeletons or shells. The supply of usable calcium and the biological processes they use depend on the pH value (acidity) in the water – because it is not too high (cf. above about changed pH balance and acidic sea). The changes can lead to mass death in the ocean, a huge boom (algae and other) or a different species composition. As of today, we observe that species are moving. For example, today mackerel go further north along the Norwegian coast than before.
We also know that as long as we continue to emit large amounts of CO 2 , the more acidic the oceans will be. The mechanisms that make the ocean mostly alkaline will take many thousands of years to normalize the pH again. Compared to human (relatively short) time on earth, we can say that this is a lasting footprint on the ecosystem.
In Norway, we are very dependent on the sea and the resources there. Therefore, we must take on the increasing ocean acidification when we prepare the policy around the management of marine resources. It is the only way we can have a sustainable management of our natural resources.
5: Where do we stand? Where are we going?
After approx. In 1990, global greenhouse gas emissions fell, as did sulfur emissions. The western countries then began to take over the direction of the climate. In line with the growth in many developing countries, however, global emissions have increased again in the last couple of decades – at least until 2013.
The changing geopolitical situation opened up opportunities for enormous economic progress in the rest of the world. And the country that was best at seizing the opportunity was China. The country introduced free economy areas that functioned as economic locomotives with large-scale production of everything from simple toys to life-threatening chemicals, mobile phones and other high-tech products. China became “the world factory “. This huge economic promise has mainly been driven by coal power and made China by far the biggest polluter in the world. For the climate, the violent and coal-fired growth in China did not bode well.