I've been writing about human-caused destruction of the biosphere for quite some time now. As new scientific studies come to light, the press coverage follows a depressing pattern. These stories are usually climate-related. Here's the standard Washington Post version along with some other details.
The research institution in question issues a press release.
- If there's a good graphic from the study, Chris includes that.
Chris calls upon Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann to put the new finding in perspective. Mann is a dependable "go-to" guy. Mann further explains what we must do to avoid this calamitous outcome.
- The science press coverage quotes the lead researcher again at the end of the story. The researcher emphasizes the importance of more research or data.
The 24-hour news-cycle cycles on. The story disappears, never to surface again.
And that's it. Over and over again. Wash, rinse and repeat.
This time around, the story concerns long-term deoxygenation in the oceans due to warming of surface waters. This leads to less mixing of oxygen-rich surface water with water at intermediate depths. (The ocean is said to become more "stratified".) Also, the warmer surface waters get, the less oxygen they absorb. It's a mess. Here's the standard image.
Here are the standard quotes. Let's start with Michael Mann, whose only direct experience with the ocean (AFAIK) is swimming in it.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, shared these concerns, telling The Washington Post that the new study adds to the “list of insults we are inflicting on the ocean through our continued burning of fossil fuels.”
“Just a week after learning that 93 (percent) of the Great Barrier Reef has experienced bleaching in response to the unprecedented current warmth of the oceans, we have yet another reason to be gravely concerned about the health of our oceans, and yet another reason to prioritize the rapid decarbonization of our economy,” Mann said.
Thanks for that, Michael. We'll get on that "rapid decarbonization" solution right away! We'll get that done starting ... uhhh ... tomorrow!
Here's NCAR lead researcher Matthew Long telling us what needs to happen next.
We need to address the cause of oxygen loss — and warming and acidification — if we want to slow it, Long said. That means decreasing CO2 emissions. But more investment in our monitoring abilities is also key if we want to understand where and how low oxygen levels are impacting the ocean.
“Being able to really quantify what’s going on is really important,” he said.
Being able to really quantify what's going on may be really important to Matthew Long, but it's not important to anybody else as far as I can see.
These studies come and go, as does media coverage of them. Nothing happens thereafter. As I have argued extensively on this blog, nothing can happen.
Apparently, the entire exercise—explaining the potentially catastrophic result and it's greater meaning, which is always the same—is a colossal waste of my precious time on this Earth, and yours, too.
At least Chris Mooney gets paid to write these stories. Nice for him!