Monday, August 09, 2010
Decreasing Marine Phytoplankton and Survival
Phytoplankton, microscopic marine algae, is the foundation of the marine food chain, from zooplankton to the largest sea mammals on the planet – and ultimately humankind. Science News has reported on a study, published in the journal Nature, that states that phytoplankton may have declined by some 40% since 1950.
Phytoplankton produces something like one-half of the oxygen we need as well as reduces surface CO2. This is not insignificant, as scientists report that global warming is likely changing the fundamentals of marine ecology, along with the very real problems of pollution, overfishing, and the possibility of increased ocean acidification as carbon dioxide levels rise.
New Study of Phytoplankton
Michael Behrenfeld, botany professor at Oregon State University, conducted a recent study challenging the prevailing theory on how phytoplankton blooms in the ocean. The new theory Behrenfeld calls the dilution-recoupling hypothesis.
Professor Behrenfeld's hypothesis suggests—unlike the prevailing view first proposed back in 1953—that global warming will decrease ocean productivity. Behrenfeld believes oceanographers will now have to conduct a lot more research on the complexity of how oceans actually work.
Phytoplankton and Extinction
Related to the study on the decreased marine phytoplankton in the world's oceans, the Keiser Report of August 6, 2010 talked to Captain Paul Watson the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and host of "Whale Wars" on the Animal Planet. Watson claimed that Japan and Norway, using large commercial drag trawlers, are pulling up huge amounts of phytoplankton to be used as cheap protein meal for livestock.
Unity of Knowledge
Edward O. Wilson, the well known biologist, more than ten years ago, coined the word consilience. He was telling humankind that they had to create a common framework of understanding and explanation, especially in the natural sciences but ultimately in the humanities as well.
Will we ultimately be able to see the connections, the linkages, and the cause and effect of our actions?
Findings Overturn Old Theory of Phytoplankton Growth, Raise Concerns for Ocean Productivity
Keiser Report Episode 66
Phytoplankton in Retreat