Dad came into town today to help Pearl with some paperwork. We got to have dinner with him. Gods it's good to talk with him, sometimes I forget just how important his thoughts are. He's now sharing them on his blog.
Mostly we discussed the predicted ocean acidification effects. This is basically a problem where the increased CO2 levels in the oceans are turning the water acidic and hampering CO2 uptake by the plants and corals in the water. Interestingly, a couple of proposed climate-change solutions involve aquatic sequestering of CO2 in the oceans, potentially hastening the crisis in this area.
I've been trying to find the report from October where they were pegging the timeframe around 25-50 years. Should the change be rapid enough, it would have the potential to kill off large fractions of the animal populations in the oceans. A few key species at the bottom of the food chains could wind up dying out. The absorbency of the ocean would also dramatically reduce (hastening the ramp up in atmospheric CO2). (I've not investigated the science closely, btw, I'm just trying to paraphrase and may have missed a key bit of the chain).
The effect of a complete collapse (should it occur) would be severe for human and animal life both in the oceans and on land (think in terms of significant fractions of total population dying).
Solving the CO2 buildup problem would require a massive change in the CO2 production of the world, the kind of change that would likely require sacrifices at levels akin to those seen in e.g. the WWII home-front privations. That is, while life would continue, there would be some significant somewhat painful adjustments. Waiting past 5 years gets into sacrifices likely to cause horrific hardships for some.
There are a number of potential solutions to the problem, but each one is fraught with difficulties and competing interests. Any straightforward solution is going to have to have the backing of the bulk of society, as it is going to produce hardships and, as Dad terms it, "social unrest".
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