But here's the new problem. Satellite studies indicate that microscopic plants in the ocean grow slower when the ocean gets warmer.
That startled me. From my biology background, I know that most biological processes speed up with temperature. Heck, just from living through a cycle of the seasons here, I know that plants grow faster when it's warmer. So why do these tiny plants in the ocean grow slower? From the news release at Oregon State University:
When the ocean surface warms, it essentially becomes “lighter” than the cold, dense water below, which is loaded with nutrients. This process effectively separates phytoplankton in the surface layer - which need light for photosynthesis - from the nutrients below them, which they also need for growth.Well, so what? Aren't trees more important than these phytoplankton that we can't even see with the naked eye? Back to the news release:
Despite their microscopic size, ocean phytoplankton are responsible for about half of the photosynthesis on Earth, a process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into organic carbon to fuel nearly every ocean ecosystem.Ouch.
Bad news, yes. Or is it? I'd say it's better than no news. If phytoplankton dies in the ocean, and nobody hears about it, it still dies. How about using this news as fuel to fire up your determination to walk instead of driving. Try a toboggan for the groceries, with a picnic cooler on it to keep the bananas and lettuce from freezing on the way home. Or grow some sprouts instead of buying lettuce, and check out those new garden catalogs for some fruit trees and berry bushes to plant next season. Insignificant? Consider this: a lot of people say our food in Canada travels an average of 2500 km to get to a dinner plate, and I've heard some estimates as high as double that.
And pass the word along to a climate optimist. Gently. They don't like to hear this stuff - and can you blame them?