Articles Collections

Oceans, Oxygen Cycle & Waterways -Specific Articles

It may appear that atmospheric oxygen fraction or ocean pH could not change by very large amounts in the near term, but there are numerous feedback loops at work in climate change and ocean chemistry change. Things can change very quickly when several amplifying loops combine into one large cycle. I don't think they can be ruled out at this time. In either case, ocean circulation, chemistry, anoxia, and temperature are all undergoing changes large enough to be disastrous to marine life at many regions and depths.

Collection of Useful Concepts

  • Wikipedia:
    Blue Carbon
    Retrieved February 5th, 2022
    Blue carbon is carbon sequestration (the removal of carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere) by the world's oceanic and coastal ecosystems, mostly by algae, seagrasses, macroalgae, mangroves, salt marshes and other plants in coastal wetlands. This occurs through plant growth and the accumulation and burial of organic matter in the soil. Because oceans cover 70% of the planet, ocean ecosystem restoration has the greatest blue carbon development potential. Research is ongoing, but in some cases it has been found that these types of ecosystems remove far more carbon than terrestrial forests, and store it for millennia.
  • Wikipedia:
    Stratification (Water)
    Almost entirely about Ocean Stratification. Probably the article should be renamed. (There are separate articles for lake stratification, thermocline, open ocean convection, pycnocline, and aquatic science among other things. It seems to me that Stratification (Water) might make more sense for a more general chemistry article, rather than ecology/aquatic science).
    Retrieved February 5th, 2022
    Stratification is defined as the separation of water in layers based on a specific quantity. Two main types of stratification of water are uniform and layered stratification. Layered stratification occurs in all of the ocean basins. The stratified layers act as a barrier to the mixing of water, which can impact the exchange of heat, carbon, oxygen and other nutrients.[1] Due to upwelling and downwelling, which are both wind-driven, mixing of different layers can occur by means of the rise of cold nutrient-rich and warm water, respectively. Generally, the layers are based on the density of water. Intuitively, heavier, and hence denser, water is located below the lighter water, representing a stable stratification. An example of a layer in the ocean is the pycnocline, which is defined as a layer in the ocean where the change in density is relatively large compared to the other layers in the ocean. The thickness of the thermocline is not constant everywhere, but depends on a variety of variables. Over the years stratification of the ocean basins has increased.[1] An increase in stratification means that the differences in density of the layers in the oceans increase, leading to for example larger mixing barriers.
  • Wikipedia:
    Dead zone (ecology)
    Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans and large lakes, which causes these bodies of water to fail to support the marine life living there. Historically, many of these sites were naturally occurring. However, in the 1970s, oceanographers began noting increased instances and expanses of dead zones. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated.
  • Wikipedia:
    Ocean Deoxygenation
    Ocean deoxygenation is the reduction of the oxygen content of the oceans due to human activities as a consequence of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and eutrophication driven excess production. It is manifest in the increasing number of coastal and estuarine hypoxic areas, or dead zones, and the expansion of oxygen minimum zones in the world's oceans. The decrease in oxygen content of the oceans has been fairly rapid and poses a threat to all aerobic marine life, as well as to people who depend on marine life for nutrition or livelihood.
  • Wikipedia:
    Climate change feedback
    Climate change feedback is important in the understanding of global warming because feedback processes may amplify or diminish the effect of each climate forcing, and so play an important part in determining the climate sensitivity and future climate state. Feedback in general is the process in which changing one quantity changes a second quantity, and the change in the second quantity in turn changes the first. Positive feedback amplifies the change in the first quantity while negative feedback reduces it.
  • Wikipedia:
    Anoxic event
    Oceanic anoxic events or anoxic events (anoxia conditions) were intervals in the Earth's past where portions of oceans became depleted in oxygen (O2) over a large geographic areas. [...] Although anoxic events have not happened for millions of years, the geological record shows that they happened many times in the past. Anoxic events coincided with several mass extinctions and may have contributed to them. These mass extinctions include some that geobiologists use as time markers in biostratigraphic dating. Many geologists believe oceanic anoxic events are strongly linked to slowing of ocean circulation, climatic warming, and elevated levels of greenhouse gases.
  • Wikipedia:
    Arctic methane emissions
    Arctic methane is much talked about, but I never hear about ancient ANTarctic deposits (yet).
    Arctic methane release is the release of methane from seas and soils in permafrost regions of the Arctic. While it is a long-term natural process, methane release is exacerbated by global warming. This results in negative effects, as methane is itself a powerful greenhouse gas.
  • Wikipedia:
    Greenhouse gas
    Section on Anthropogenic greenhouse gases
    A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. [...] Since about 1750 human activity has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Measured atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently 100 ppm higher than pre-industrial levels. Natural sources of carbon dioxide are more than 20 times greater than sources due to human activity, but over periods longer than a few years natural sources are closely balanced by natural sinks, mainly photosynthesis of carbon compounds by plants and marine plankton. As a result of this balance, the atmospheric mole fraction of carbon dioxide remained between 260 and 280 parts per million for the 10,000 years between the end of the last glacial maximum and the start of the industrial era.
  • Wikipedia:
    Great Oxidation Event
    There was a time when the atmosphere wasn't full of oxygen: The Great Oxidation Event (GOE), sometimes also called the Great Oxygenation Event, Oxygen Catastrophe, Oxygen Crisis, Oxygen Holocaust, or Oxygen Revolution, was a time period when the Earth's atmosphere and the shallow ocean experienced a rise in oxygen, approximately 2.4 billion years ago (2.4 Ga) to 2.1–2.0 Ga during the Paleoproterozoic era. Geological, isotopic, and chemical evidence suggests that biologically produced molecular oxygen (dioxygen, O2) started to accumulate in Earth's atmosphere and changed Earth's atmosphere from a weakly reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere, causing many existing species on Earth to die out. The cyanobacteria producing the oxygen caused the event which enabled the subsequent development of multicellular forms.
  • Wikipedia:
    Oxygen Cycle
    The oxygen cycle is the biogeochemical transitions of oxygen atoms between different oxidation states in ions, oxides, and molecules through redox reactions within and between the spheres/reservoirs of the planet Earth. The word oxygen in the literature typically refers to the most common oxygen allotrope, elemental/diatomic oxygen (O2), as it is a common product or reactant of many biogeochemical redox reactions within the cycle. Processes within the oxygen cycle are considered to be biological or geological and are evaluated as either a source (O2 production) or sink (O2 consumption).
  • Wikipedia:
    Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event
    The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction, was a sudden mass extinction of three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, approximately 66 million years ago. As noted above (The Atlantic), many large Earth impacts did not lead to mass extinctions at the scale of this one, and this one coincided with ocean acidification, which is also begininning in our present climate crisis.
  • Wikipedia:
    Eutrophication (from Greek eutrophos, "well-nourished"), distrophication or hypertrophication, is when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae. This process may result in oxygen depletion of the water body. One example is an "algal bloom" or great increase of phytoplankton in a sandy body as a response to increased levels of nutrients. Eutrophication is often induced by the discharge of nitrate or phosphate-containing detergents, fertilizers, or sewage into an aquatic system.
  • Wikipedia:
    Oxygen minimum zone
    The oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), sometimes referred to as the shadow zone, is the zone in which oxygen saturation in seawater in the ocean is at its lowest. This zone occurs at depths of about 200 to 1,500 m (660–4,920 ft), depending on local circumstances. OMZs are found worldwide, typically along the western coast of continents, in areas where an interplay of physical and biological processes concurrently lower the oxygen concentration (biological processes) and restrict the water from mixing with surrounding waters (physical processes), creating a “pool” of water where oxygen concentrations fall from the normal range of 4–6 mg/l to below 2 mg/l. It is notable that a lethal decline in aqeuous dissolved oxygen is measurable in single parts per million, unlike atmospheric oxygen which is around 21% (or 210,000 parts per million) in normal conditions. It factors out this way because pure water is 1kg per liter, and seawater at the surface is 1.025 kg/l, so 4-6mg/l of oxygen is 3.90-5.85 ppm in seawater, or 4-6ppm in pure water.
  • Wikipedia:
    Atlantic meridional overturning circulation
    Section on AMOC stability
    The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is the zonally-integrated component of surface and deep currents in the Atlantic Ocean. It is characterized by a northward flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the Atlantic, and a southward flow of colder, deep waters that are part of the thermohaline circulation. These "limbs" are linked by regions of overturning in the Nordic and Labrador Seas and the Southern Ocean. [...] Atlantic overturning is not a static feature of global circulation, but rather a sensitive function of temperature and salinity distributions as well as atmospheric forcings. Paleoceanographic reconstructions of AMOC vigour and configuration have revealed significant variations over geologic time complementing variation observed on shorter scales.
  • Wikipedia:
    Shutdown of thermohaline circulation
    A shutdown or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation is a hypothesized effect of global warming on a major ocean circulation.

    A 2015 study suggested that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) has weakened by 15-20% in 200 years.
  • Wikipedia:
    Tipping points in the climate system
    A tipping point in the climate system is a threshold that, when exceeded, can lead to large changes in the state of the system. Potential tipping points have been identified in the physical climate system, in impacted ecosystems, and sometimes in both. For instance, feedback from the global carbon cycle is a driver for the transition between glacial and interglacial periods, with orbital forcing providing the initial trigger. Earth's geologic temperature record includes many more examples of geologically rapid transitions between different climate states.

General Climate Change and Solutions

  • The Sun Magazine:
    Before It’s Too Late
    Mary Christina Wood On Avoiding Climate Disaster
    By Mary DeMocker - February 2019
  • The New Yorker:
    How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet
    With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts.
    By Bill McKibben - November 16, 2018
  • XKCD:
    Earth Temperature Timeline
    A Timeline of the Earth's Average Temperature Since the Last Ice Age Glaciation
    Mobile site version
    Randall Munroe, September 12th, 2016

Media, Culture & Politics

    What Covid Is Exposing About the Climate Movement
    The “it’s not you” approach might be good politics, but the Covid epidemic is showing it’s also wrong
    By Michael Grunwald, 04/21/2020

    Echoing my points that every gram of carbon counts and that while we can't solve climate change with individual action alone, neither can we solve it without individual change. The author discusses the corporate-sponsored 'Crying Indian' ad that appeared on the 2nd Earth Day in 1971: while the ad may have been a ploy to falsely shift responsibility for pollution away from business and onto individuals, it also made littering extremely uncool, and Americans don't chuck much garbage out their car windows anymore.

    Climate change is a wicked collective action problem, and no one seriously believes that 7.7 billion people can overcome the tragedy of the global commons by switching to reusable cups and biking to work. But while individual change alone can't fix the climate, the climate can't be fixed without it: When the scientists from the research coalition Project Drawdown ranked the top solutions for reducing global emissions, No. 3 and No. 4 were reducing food waste and embracing plant-rich diets, solutions that depend on people’s everyday life decisions.

    [ ranking cited is for Project Drawdown's Scenario 2 ]

  • The Guardian:
    The four types of climate denier, and why you should ignore them all
    The shill, the grifter, the egomaniac and the ideological fool: each distorts the urgent global debate in their own way
    by Damian Carrington, July 30th 2020

    But why do I say ignore them all? The climate crisis is urgent, and we need debate to drive action. However, vigorous debates over action are already taking place in good faith all over the world, from the tops of governments to the smallest local action groups.

    [ excerpts not sequential ]

    The world of finance and business is catching up fast with the science, and almost all the technology needed already exists. In short, no sane or serious actor can countenance denial of climate danger. Bad-faith arguments motivated by greed, egomania or ideology have nothing to add.

    [ emphasis mine ]

On Energy, Economy & Industry

  • Daily Kos:
    Kenyan woman invents method to turn plastic into construction cubes that are 'stronger than bricks'
    Walter Einenkel | Thursday February 18, 2021

    I've long thought that bricks and lumber replacements would be a good use for scrap plastic. Now someone's gone and done it!

    Matee’s young company, Gjenge Makers, takes plastic waste and turns it into building materials. According to Matee, using sand and a mixture of plastic waste can produce bricks, manholes, and tiles that are stronger than traditional concrete materials used for construction. Matee boasts that “Our product is almost five to seven times stronger than concrete.” What’s more, Matee’s recycled bricks are lighter and cheaper than more traditional construction products. This makes the entire supply chain of construction cheaper because transportation costs are greatly lowered, and obviously the materials themselves are cheaper.

  • Sierra - the national magazine of the Sierra Club:
    The End of Oil is Near
    The pandemic may send the petroleum industry to the grave
    By Antonia Juhasz | Aug 24 2020
    How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly
    The US has everything it needs to decarbonize by 2035
    By David Roberts, August 6th, 2020
    Article based on work from Rewiring America

    "In a nutshell, he has shown that it’s possible to eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of US carbon emissions by 2035 through rapid deployment of existing electrification technologies, with little-to-no carbon capture and sequestration. Doing so would slash US energy demand by around half, save consumers money, and keep the country on a 1.5° pathway without requiring particular behavior changes. Everyone could still have their same cars and houses — they would just need to be electric."

    [ excerpts not sequential ]

    "And Griffith emphasizes that, in proportional terms, today’s task is less substantial than FDR’s. It took the equivalent of 1.8 US GDPs to win World War II, whereas the total cost of decarbonizing America is more like 1.2 to 1.5 GDPs, he says. Proportionally, it’s a significantly smaller interruption to the economy. "

  • Renew Economy:
    Graph of the Day: The myth about energy subsidies
    Giles Parkinson, 25 February 2016
  • Politico Magazine:
    My Life in the Elusive Green Economy
    The renewable future is here—if you can find a plug.
    Michael Grunwald - Politico Magazine - March 2018
  • Scientific American:
    Fossil Fuel Subsidies Cost $5 Trillion Annually and Worsen Pollution
    The International Monetary Fund notes that subsides for burning fossil fuels enrich the wealthy and make air pollution worse
    Daniel Cusick - Scientific American - May 2015
    Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC.
  • ROAR Magazine:
    Three reasons why the Paris climate deal is a fraud
    World leaders are congratulating themselves on a set of promises they will never be able to keep without taking on the immense power of the fossil fuel industry.
    By Jerome Roos, 12-14-2015
    I would not myself call the Paris Climate Agreement a fraud, but all the problems identified in the article are real and still largely unaddressed
  • The New Yorker:
    The Race to Solar-Power Africa
    American startups are competing to bring electricity to communities that remain off the grid.
    By Bill McKibben, June 19, 2017
    Trump's unplanned gift to Biden: Clean energy on the rise
    Oil and gas producers are struggling amid weak prices and growing pressure to address climate change — a trend that could help Biden make a U-turn in energy policy.

    Renewables are now on track to surpass coal as the largest source of electricity in the world by 2025, according to a November report from the International Energy Agency. And in the U.S., the latest outlook from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration is bullish on wind and solar, which along with hydropower and other renewables will surpass 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation next year, about the same level as coal or nuclear power. EIA is projecting the U.S. electric power sector will add a record 23 gigawatts of new wind capacity this year — almost double the previous record — while utility-scale solar capacity to rise by 12.8 GW in 2020, enough to power millions of homes.

    [ Excerpts not sequential ]

    Those weak prices for natural gas and crude oil — which briefly turned negative as the pandemic took hold in April — have forced 45 oil and gas companies to file for bankruptcy through the first 11 months of 2020, according to law firm Haynes and Boone.