As many of you undoubtedly know, world leaders are meeting this week in Durban, South Africa, in another round of climate talks. Meanwhile, last week, Yale Environment 360 reported on the deaths of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a climate change problem. As humanity pumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans take about 30 percent it. When CO2 mixes with water, it forms carbonic acid—just like bubbly soda. Acids cause calcium carbonate, the key component of seashells and coral, to dissolve.
CO2 + H20 = bye bye oysters, clams, mussels, lobsters
So I did an experiment, and I wrote about it for The Faster Times. I took all of the lovely items above—two chicken eggs, four clams, four mussels—and divided them between two glass jars. I filled one jar with vinegar, the other with club soda (both acids). And I watched. Jerry set up a camera, and it took a picture a minute all through the day and night.
I included chicken eggs because they have thin shells with lots of calcium carbonate. Amazing things happened. You can see the video here:[video width="480" height="360" src="http://ramblingspoon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Climate-Change-Egg-3.m4v" /]
If you’re really interested in this stuff, please do read the full explanation over at The Faster Times. When I pulled the items out of the jars, they were slippery, gooey and gross. Especially the shells soaked in vinegar.
In fact, the egg no longer really had a protective shell. It was little more than a membrane keeping the innards intact. I pushed on the egg, and my fingers left deep impressions.
When I rubbed the clams, a slick layer of brown gunk coated my fingers. Actually, the remainder of the shell beneath looked kind of pretty—porcelain white and blue. But I don’t think it’s appropriate for a clam in the ocean.
The seashells in both jars had opened. They were closed when the experiment began. What does it all mean? As I pointed out in the article, this was far from a strict scientific study. I did it mostly for visual effect. But lots of scientists have followed procedure and come to the same conclusion: ocean acidification jeopardizes the creatures that inhabit our seas.