Oceans of trouble as the CO2 battles widen

Summary:Legal battles loom over oceanic environmental issues.

There are numerous greentech companies working on various schemes for CO2 capture, recycling, sequestration, burial, and so on. Those companies may be putting themselves into a sector where the technology will be in increasing demand. Today a small nation in the Pacific Ocean is suing over a coal-burning plant in the Czech Republic. The Federation of Micronesia says that Czech plant is endangering the survival of its low-lying islands. At some point it may become cheaper to deal with the CO2 emissions than to hire batteries of lawyers for drawn-out court battles. This court fight could be the first of what we could call the second-hand smoke of the fossil fuel business.

It was such cost disincentives that in the past helped encourage major efforts by government and businesses to deal with leaded gasoline, second-hand cigarette smoke, asbestos fibers, dioxin, acid rain, and other man-caused health threats. If you're interested in following what's happening in the carbon capture sector of greentech, here's an American university's website on the topic. CO2 + H20 = TROUBLE?

A just-published research report says that increasing CO2 absorption by the earth's oceans is having a negative effect. That lower oceanic pH means the ocean's chemistry is changed. This research says acidification lowers the amount of iron in the ocean, potentially curtailing growth of phytoplankton. A phytoplankton dearth would lead to a shrinking number of larger creatures able to live in the ocean.

One environmental group is citing oceanic acidity as a cause of the disappearance of black abalone along the U.S. Pacific Coast. The group is also taking their case to court.

Ocean acidification is not a new finding nor a new fear. Acidification is now becoming widely seen by climate change skeptics as a stalking horse for the whole GW argument. So modest old CO2 has a coterie of strong defenders just as it continues to draw the ire of environmental groups and many climate researchers.

SOME OLD OIL LINGERS ON

Another new research finding says oil from the two-decade old Exxon Valdez spill lingers in Alaska's Prince William Sound. That oil which has seeped beneath the top layer of the beaches gets exposed to little oxygen or the bacteria that might otherwise biodegrade the crude crud. The study says 20-thousand gallons of oil remains in Alaskan beaches "protected" by the upper layers of sand.

The scientists say they're experimenting with ways to get oxygen into the lower beach sand where the oil is trapped. That would speed biodegradation they hope.

Topics: Legal

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