Dear Editor –
No one seems to be talking about climate change anymore. But that doesn’t mean climate change isn’t occurring, and nor does it mean the effects are not being observed and documented.
In fact, there has been a 40% decline in phytoplankton (i.e., plant plankton) since 1950 due to a rise in ocean surface temperatures, and it may be the most devastating impact yet from burning coal and fossil fuels to produce energy.
Phytoplankton are absolutely crucial to the marine food chain. They are a food source for everything from shrimp, small fish and zooplankton right up to the largest whales. Phytoplankton produce half the world’s oxygen and they draw down massive amounts of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The consequences of such a massive decline in phytoplankton are frightening. They could also be catastrophic as scientists didn’t think we would see ocean impacts from climate change like this until the second half of this century.
Clearly, there is no time to lose in switching from fossil fuel to clean energy sources. Phytoplankton are like microscopic canaries in the coal mine, and what they are telling us through their demise is to stop burning coal.
I think we should listen.