Two cold winters have given the gulf some breathing space, but climate models and recorded trends indicate our seas are going to keep warming, with the conditions experienced in the “ocean heat wave” becoming the new normal by mid-century. The result will be dramatic changes in an ecosystem Mainers have relied on since the end of the last ice age, ones for which our communities, industries and government are poorly prepared to face.
“Overall, we found there’s a decrease in species diversity and abundance irrespective of what ecosystem we are looking at. These are broad scale impacts, made worse when you combine the effect of warming with acidification.
That culprit, ocean acidification, is the caustic cousin of climate change, and it shifts the chemistry of ocean water, making it harder for oysters to grow. That’s because about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing pH levels to plummet and making the water more acidic. The more pollution in the air, the more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs.
If you thought the worst extinction event on Earth was the one that killed the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago, think again. A far worse event, the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction event, happened some 252 million years ago, which over the course of about 60,000 years is thought to have wiped out more than two-thirds of land species and more than 90% of marine species on the planet.