Ask ocean what it wants, but understand correct answer

April 9, 2024

I was pleasantly amused by the letter from Anita Welsch (April 5) asking the ocean for its opinion about wind farms planted in its midst. I too have wondered what the ocean might say if it could answer the question. However, my expectation for the ocean’s opinion is at variance to the one suggested by reader Welsch.

Because we humans generate electricity by burning fossil fuels, thus dumping the resulting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the ocean is stuck with the unfortunate result that it absorbs 30 percent of that extra added CO2 and 90% of the extra heat these gases redirect from the air onto the land and water. The problem for the ocean is that CO2 in the water becomes carbonic acid, which then dissociates into hydrogen ions, which cause more acid in the water. This problem is like a stomach upset for the ocean, and tiny marine animals at the bottom of the food chain are disrupted, which reduces the food for every other, larger sea creature all the way up to the whales.

For these reasons, the folks who really care about the marine animals in the ocean encourage sprinkling the sea bottom with pylons supporting wind turbines so we can shut down fossil fuel-burning electrical generators and get our electricity from harmless wind. As the heat rises in the ocean, the water expands and takes up more space, which then pushes it up farther onto the beaches. Eventually, the higher ocean level washes away beach sand from stronger storms. By the year 2100, tourists will leave because the beaches could be gone.

Science explains all this. Future generations of beach lovers will look back to this time and wish the ocean really did have a say, instead of the mistaken opinions of current residents. Good idea, Anita, let’s ask the ocean what it wants, but understand the correct answer.

Dr. Ted Spickler

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