Addison W. Washington

Air and Water Pollution

Our current rate of carbon dioxide production is going too fast for life to adapt.

Dear Next President,

You may be wondering, “Why would I want to focus on global warming?” I can assure you that this is very urgent. As you may have heard on social media, “The Great Barrier Reef is dead,” however, it isn’t dead just yet! Right now, the Great Barrier Reef is going through a process called coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is when corals become stressed out because of high water temperatures, higher water acidity, over exposure to sunlight, or lack of food. In this case, it would be the water temperature and acidity. Although, if we do nothing to stop the worlds current production rate of carbon dioxide, it is predicted that the reef will be bleached to death by 2050.  If we and others countries work together to end global warming, we could slow down the bleaching of the reef and ideally create a climate enabling the reef to rebuild and reestablish itself.  To do that, we should have marine biologists and other scientists focus their attention on the ocean and the atmosphere to find ways to change it.

If you ever wonder where most of the carbon dioxide in the air goes, it goes into the ocean. For example, you could say that the ocean is like a giant sponge. It soaks up the carbon from the air and holds it.   It may not sound so bad, but it has many consequences. Since carbon dioxide is being produced at such a high rate, the world and life on earth cannot adapt to it quickly enough.  In fact, a species of rodent called the Bramble cay melomys has recently gone extinct due to climate change.

Shellfish are also in danger of the acidic water.  A good chunk of research shows: “The waters of the Pacific Ocean have turned corrosively acidic and to oysters this is lethal. Many oyster larvae no longer  make it to adulthood. In fact, billions of oyster larvae died in 2008. Those that did survive suffered from deformed shells, or were undersized. The $110 million industry was on the brink of collapse.” “A shift in wind patterns had pushed surface waters aside, allowing acidic water from the deep to well up onto the shore. Even a few decades ago, such up-welling events were not as acidic and probably would not have been cause for concern.  Since the ocean is absorbing massive amounts of CO2, about one quarter of our excess emissions-” (The world produces 38.2 tons of carbon dioxide yearly, so that would mean that the ocean absorbs about 9.55 tons of it.) “-as we continue to pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are driving the pH of ocean water lower and lower. Today, ocean waters are up to 30% more acidic than in postindustrial times.” “Oysters are just one of many organisms that are dependent on ocean water plentiful with carbonate ions, a building block that many marine plants and animals use to build hard calcium carbonate shells. These include corals, shellfish, and some important types of plankton” (Doney). This shows that with the raised acidity of the ocean, shellfish cannot create shells properly. This also effects coral too which worsens their problem even more!

Now, these examples are just barely scratching the surface of the negative changes that global warming is causing. I hope that you will think about how the ocean takes up 70% of the earth and how marine life produces 70% of our oxygen. Our Earth is the ecosystem in which we live.  If the ocean becomes so warm and acidic to the point where there was no more life in the ocean, what would we do then?   In order to stop our production rate of 15.1 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide yearly, I believe we should reduce our amount of ocean pollutants.  There are a few laws against global warming like the California state law called The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or Assembly Bill (AB) 32. I believe we need many more laws like these if we want to fix this problem. We need to use less, and recycle more plastic and other debris that end up in our oceans. We have to find cleaner alternatives to creating energy, like solar and wind energy while reducing the use of fossil fuels and other producers of CO2, and things that harm marine life.  Although people will volunteer to help clean up the ocean, it doesn't have a big of an impact as an entire country would. Hopefully, the United States will become a leader in climate change solutions and our use of cleaner energy sources will influence other big CO2 producers like India and China to do the same.  We all have to work together to make the difference.

Thank you for your time.