The Once-lers of the 21st century

PhilGravinesePhilip Gravinese

Happy Earth Day!  Our second week of sampling has come to an end and today we start T13.  The week was full of exciting discoveries, data collection, interactive paper discussions, and additional media interviews (new article to come out Friday…stay tuned!).  The team has mastered the sampling procedures and is efficiently processing the samples.  Our efficient sampling has allowed us to carefully monitor our pCO2 levels daily.  As a result, we have successfully maintained the dissolved CO2 within each mesocosm to the desired treatment levels.  Daily maintenance of our pCO2 levels is critical to identifying the effects of low pH on the biomass of the phyto and microzooplankton communities.  Past mesocosm studies have let the CO2 levels decline throughout the various phases of the plankton bloom masking the effects of high CO2 conditions.

The students spent the second half of the week preparing project summaries describing their individual experiments.  We plan to celebrate Earth Day by giving brief presentations to our colleagues to discuss preliminary data, possible trends, and statistical analyses.  We couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate the 43rd Earth Day Anniversary!  It seems appropriate that Earth Day coincides with the “halfway point” of our climate change experiment.  Anthropogenic factors such as polluted runoff, overfishing, and now excess atmospheric CO2 have augmented the stress put on marine systems.  Current atmospheric CO2 levels have increased at 100 times the rate previously seen in Earth’s history and 30% of that CO2 is absorbed by the oceans.  The climate trends we are experiencing are difficult to ignore.  The parallels between the changes we are witnessing today mirror the lessons we learned during our childhood when we read Dr. Seuss’, The Lorax.  The consequences of the Once-ler’s actions were not recognized until the damage was irreversible.  Hopefully, we will not suffer a similar fate.  Perhaps the scientific communities’ dedication to climate change research will spread awareness, incite action, and result in a positive change…….Because unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

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