VOICE: The oceans are the Earth’s single largest absorbers of carbon dioxide. But they are being overloaded by humans’ CO2 emissions. The result: acidification, with catastrophic consequences.
Yves Paccalet - Renowned French writer, philosopher and environmentalist (M): If the acidification of the ocean continues as it is now, then these so-called major carbon sinks will no longer be able to play their role, and therefore, everything goes faster.
Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright – Assistant Director-General, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (F): What’s happening with this absorption of carbon dioxide is #1, the ocean is becoming saturated, and #2, the ocean is becoming more acid. This has an enormous impact.
Professor Jean-Pierre Gattuso – Oceanographer, National Centre for Scientific Research, France (M): And those changes which occurred in the past were very slow, so there was a lot of time and scope for the organisms to adapt, to evolve to those changing conditions. And now we are changing in almost an instant.
VOICE: As the oceans reach a CO2 saturation point, their waters acidify faster, which in turn threatens all marine life.
Dr. Wendy Watson-Wright – Assistant Director-General, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (F): Ocean acidification is having impacts on many, many different species.
Dr. James Barry - Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (M): In areas where corals are living where it is now more acidic, they have more fragile skeletons, which allows more rapid coastal erosion, etc.
VOICE: In the Pacific northwest of the USA, coastal areas have already become so acidic that baby oysters are dying as their shells corrode before they are fully formed. Fish, previously thought to be unaffected, may also perish in the vulnerable egg and larvae stages of life. This is just a sign of what is to come if carbon emissions continue unchecked.
Dr. Carol Turley – Senior Scientist, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK (F): Sixty-five million years ago, there was a big carbon perturbation then, and the oceans became more acidic, they became warmer, they had less oxygen. Many, many species on Earth became extinct, including the dinosaurs. And we’re kind of going through something that’s even more rapid now.
Dr. James Barry (M): It will change more in the lifetime of our children than we’ve seen for the last 20-30 million years.
Yves Paccalet (M): It’s a problem of the intersection of two curves -- a curve for the destruction and a curve showing the ability of the people to react. At what point will the curves meet? Will it intersect when the destruction will be so strong to make everything possibly collapse?
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