Jun 18 2014

Phytoplankton, Considered the World’s Lungs, Are in Deep Trouble From Climate Change

You may not know it, but you would not be alive today without microscopic ocean creatures called phytoplankton. These organisms produce an astonishing 60 percent of all of the Earth’s oxygen, and occupy the crucial bottom rung of our world’s food chain. The survival of almost all life on this planet depends on healthy phytoplankton.

Now a new study funded by the National Science Foundation has found that the world’s phytoplankton may be in serious jeopardy due to climate change. A team of scientists who spent 26 days studying the phytoplankton along the West Coast found that highly acidic ocean waters caused by increased carbon dioxide emissions are producing elevated levels of toxicity in these organisms. Toxic phytoplankton are in turn harming shellfish and other marine animals which feed on it.

Meanwhile, dozens of country representatives gathered at the US State Department this week for a two day conference on oceans. President Obama announced at the ‘Our Ocean’ Conference that he will be creating the world’s largest ocean preserve in the Pacific Ocean to prevent over-fishing, oil drilling and rising levels of acidification.

GUEST: William Cochlan is a Senior Research Scientist at the Romberg Tiburon Center at San Francisco State University and one of the lead researchers in the phytoplankton study

Click here to read an article about Cochlan’s work.

One response so far

One Response to “Phytoplankton, Considered the World’s Lungs, Are in Deep Trouble From Climate Change”

  1. Rod Silverson 24 Jun 2014 at 10:49 pm

    The new preserve President Obama declared will really only make a small difference to over-fishing, oil pollution, and ocean acidification. Unfortunately, Obama is a laggard when it comes to dealing with fossil fuel induced environmental damage and is in fact a fossil fuel promoter on many fronts like natural gas. And until now, he had done nothing during his two terms to correct over-fishing and extinction threats to marine life. …Still, it’s good to see a laggard leader do something.