New and Long Term Evidence point to collapse of plankton cooling as main cause of ocean warming.
But dogma demands top billing for ocean warming going to the usual suspects, those being of course ‘global warming/climate change.’
In fact ocean pasture plant life control the climate on this blue planet to suit their needs. We are imperiling those ocean plankton allies with our CO2 and neglect and we must make things right.
Plant life in the oceans, the phyto-plankton, has been reported to be in cataclysmic decline for at least 50 years based on real observations not fuzzy climate models. The rate of phytoplankton/chlorophyll decline is ‘conservatively’ reported at being 1% per year. Ocean plankton produce molecules (aerosols) that make clouds which shade the ocean and reflect sunlight back into space (albedo). Disappearing plankton means fewer clouds and greater ocean warming, aka ‘plankton cooling’. This observation is a perfect fit to explain global ocean warming. (Note: Ocean temperature is the most powerful factor in global warming models.)
To put that ocean number of 1% collapse each year into context one is reminded that the oceans cover 72% of this blue planet. And that doesn’t mean the remaining 28% of the planet is covered with green plants, in reality less than 15% of the ‘earth’ supports and sustains grass and their taller but rarer cousins, trees. 99% of life on “Earth” lives in the oceans.
From a terrestrial point of view this loss of plant biomass in the oceans is equal to losing an entire Amazon Rainforest every 5 years, that’s 10 Amazon’s gone in the past 50 years in a world that shows great concern about the loss to date of 20% of the actual earth-bound Amazon.
So how might tiny, nearly microscopic, plants in this world of blue help to keep it cool and how might their ongoing eradication be warming their world and ours?
Plankton Cooling Keeps Earth In The Goldilocks Zone
The ocean pasture plants, the phytoplankton that is almost beyond our comprehension in extant, that under natural conditions fill the 72% blue part of this blue planet are vital to all life here. They don’t just drift there growing and doing nothing to sustain their vital environment, they are in fact the most powerful life-force on this blue planet and they have aqua-formed it to their (and our) liking over the course of billions of years.
They have done this aqua-forming engineering using a variety of means but the two most important and potent tools in their planktonic engineering book are the making most of Earth’s oxygen and the regulation of sea-surface temperature and UV protection that governs that oxygen production. Myriad other tweaks to the planetary ecology are also performed by these tiny engineers but they will be/are covered in other blog posts.
The way the phyto-plankton control the temperature of the ocean (aka ‘the planet’) is by their dynamic influence on cloudiness of the skies above the oceans. They do this by producing cloud forming gases that shade the oceans and their easily sunburned plankton from the intense sunlight and in doing so their same natural sunscreen has kept our planet temperate. Our planet isn’t normally a world of blue skies, in fact the skies over the oceans are clear only 10% of the time. This plankton engineered cloudiness keeps us – Not too hot, Not too cold, but ahhhh just right!
More Grass Growing Means Less Dust Blowing
Ever since we began burning fossil fuels, and we’ve burned half a trillion tonnes already, the CO2 from our energy excess has resulted in dramatic changes on this blue planet. While many, even most, place the trillion tonnes of CO2 we’ve emitted in all of our yesterdays of our fossil fuel age on the bandwagon of climate change, the real and present danger that CO2 has wrought is not so simple. What our CO2 has and is doing is it is feeding plants on land, as those plants on land have grown ever greener and formed better ‘ground cover’ that ground cover has resulted in decimation of ocean plant life.
More grass growing means less dust blowing, and dust blowing from land to sea is nature’s Yin and Yang for plants of land and sea on our blue planet. In the same way that land is either a thriving pasture or a brown desert based on the gift of rain that blows to it on the wind, the oceans are either thriving pastures or blue deserts based on the gift of dust that blows to it on the wind.
Consider the two images below and you will see how perfect the fit is between global plankton abundance and sea-surface temperature. The HORROR is in the fact that the global sea-surface temperature increase is what is shown in the red zone image.
Global ocean pasture plankton productivity can be seen in the image below which illustrates how the phyto-plankton have a preference for cooler waters. The ocean pastures with bluer waters contain far less phyto-plankton and thus far less ocean life and they are becoming ever bluer blue deserts.
Bigger Is NOT Better
The loss of ocean plankton pastures especially over warmer tropical regions has curtailed the natural cloudiness those plankton pastures have used to control the climate of their blue planet for eons of time. While we humans in our arrogance persistently ignore this most powerful life form and force in Nature. Not only does our high and rising CO2 act to decimate vital ocean pastures even those who are willing to give their attention to CO2 only do so in the context of terrestrial ecosystems and climate. It is as if we humans are ashamed to recognize our lessor role to the tiny plankton in our deadly following of our human edict that ‘bigger is better.’
It’s not just the collapse of planet and ocean cooling clouds that results from our oppression of ocean plant life. Those ocean plants produce the vast majority of the oxygen we and all other animal life breathe.
A dire reduction in the amount of ocean oxygen due to high and rising CO2 is already discernible in some parts of the world and will be very evident and much worse across large regions of the world’s seven seas between 2030 and 2040, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Researchers published their findings in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
Bleached Lifeless Coral Reefs Are But The Edge Of Expanding Blue Deserts
Coral reefs around the world are becoming barren waste. ‘Bleaching’ events have been increasingly severe. In 1998, major bleaching event occurred where ocean warming impacted 16% of the corals on reefs around the world. The second global bleaching event that struck in 2010. The US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a third global bleaching event reported in October 2015 has already become the longest event recorded, impacting some reefs in consecutive years.
The new phenomenon of global coral bleaching events is caused by ocean warming which in turn is a result of the collapse of ocean pasture phyto-plankton and its natural ocean cooling cloud forming ability. Corals, the bathing beauties at the beaches of the worlds tropical seas, are unable to cope with today’s global ocean warming and prolonged peaks in temperatures.
Although reefs represent less than 0.1 percent of the world’s ocean area, they are the bathing beauties at the beach we humans seem most drawn to and are at the center of global ocean tourism. They also help in a small way to sustain local fisheries and the livelihoods of 500 million people and income in the tens of billions.
While there are endless proclamations and news reports on the plight of the coral reefs of the world they are but the tiniest sliver, edge, of expanding blue deserts that are engulfing our blue world. We can and must do what is necessary to restore, regenerate, and revive our ocean pastures. As we do so they will return to duty controlling and moderating the climate of our blue world.
Here’s How, The Solution Is Fast, Proven, Safe, Sustainable, and Best Of All Incredibly Inexpensive – and there is still time if we act immediately!
Remember the story of dust at the beginning of this post? That dust in the wind that has gone missing needs to be replenished and replaced for the oceans to become healthy again. While we mere humans are unlikely to be able to stand in for all of the missing dust in the wind we can most certainly begin by restoring the most damaged and most valued ocean pastures that are in danger of becoming blue deserts.
This idea is neither new nor untested and is proven to be safe, sustainable, and incredibly effective. The late great oceanographer John Martin was the first to unravel the Gordian Knot of the vital role of mineral rich dust in ocean ecology back the in the 1980’s.
His understanding of ocean ecology, ocean warming, climate change led to his outspoken advocacy on behalf of humankind. He often said should take on the responsibility and repair and restore the damage we were and are doing to our vital ocean pastures. This willingness to stand tall led him to become acclaimed around the world as one of the greatest scientists of modern time. While he tragically succumbed to cancer mere weeks before the first open ocean experiment proved it could be done he is remembered on a NASA web site titled “On The Shoulders Of Giants.”
Now after some 25+ years of international academic and private sector R&D the technology and methodology to restore our ocean plant life is well in hand and proven to be the “dirt cheap solution” to mankind’s CO2 and climate change.
John Martin’s Geritol Solution, as it was once called, has long been both the most promising (and hated by some) solution to global climate change. Today the world’s attention is riveted to the crisis of climate change and hundreds of thousands of experts, bureaucrats, politicians, and pundits have managed to convert the crisis into the greatest global cash cow since the ‘military industrial complex.’
The crisis is in the process of creating its own global currency in the form of carbon taxes, and the annual sum of this global carbon tax as agreed to in the recent Paris Climate Change Accord is estimated to be more than $3 TRILLION dollars every year.
But the real cost of the best solution to global ocean warming and climate change is simply too cheap to meter!
All it takes to accomplish ocean pasture restoration is replenishing the missing dust in the wind.
We know now that for the cost of a mere few tens of thousands of dollars of mineral dust a vast region of ocean (50,000 km2) that was once a thriving ocean pasture but had turned into a blue desert was returned to a condition of health and abundance. The ocean pasture, a key salmon nursery, was expected to provide for a catch of about 50 million Pink salmon in nearby Alaska in 2013 one year after our work began. Instead the catch of Pink salmon in Alaska in 2013 was 226 million, the largest catch in all of history, in perfect timing for our work to deliver results from their vital ocean pasture.
The ocean returned to life and the fish came back because ocean phyto-plankton in that one relatively small ocean pasture repurposed hundreds of millions of tonnes of our noxious planet cooking CO2 into new ocean life! And it all took place over the course of mere months.
By restoring ocean pastures in all of the World’s Seven Seas every year billions of tonnes of our noxious CO2 will be repurposed and put to use by solar-powered ocean phytoplankton to save their world and ours. And the cost, sorry billionaires, banksters, politicians, bureaucrats, pundits, and others looking for a free lunch at the multi-trillion dollar per year Parisian banquet, the annual cost of what is needed first and foremost to manage the lions share of the crisis is mere millions!
Best news of all is that some few of us are already underway and perform this vital work to halt ocean warming on behalf of Earth and Ocean. Join us or if you prefer sit back and watch our dust!
Update 17 July 2016: Just published today, unbeknownsted to me, in the Journal Science Advances is a paper with great detail on plankton cooling in the Southern Ocean. The authors report the effect of widespread natural plankton cooling is equivalent to the most extreme industrial/urban influences on our climate. There are for now, still, far more ocean pastures than industrialized cities controlling climate.