Is climate change a big deal? People in the northern United States are getting a pretty good picture of what global warming can bring, as a surge of summertime temperatures has arrived even before the official end of winter. Never in living memory has such a consistent and extreme early warmth taken place. Plants and animals are rushing through their usual seasonal cycles at a highly unusual rate.
That’s on the land. What’s happening in the water?
An article in this month’s edition of scientific journal Science looks at the geological evidence, and concludes that the acidification of the oceans of planet Earth that’s taking place right now is probably the most extreme that has taken place for hundreds of millions of years – and maybe even longer in the past than that. The reliable geologic record of rocks formed from marine sediments goes back 300 million years. Nowhere during that time was there an acidification trend as intense as what the oceans are experiencing right now.
Let’s put that into context: The very first primitive dinosaurs didn’t evolve until about 225 million years ago. It was about 300 million years ago that vertebrates laid their eggs on land for the very first time.
The authors of the journal article discuss “the possibility that we are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change.” I’d say that’s a big deal.