General Sep 27, 2012 at 4:00 am

A Cheat Sheet to Our Coming Climate Catastrophe


Upwelling, not warm water, cause the hypoxia zones. Weak fact checking, bro.
Anon, upwelling is part of the equation. But upwelling isn’t the singular cause of low dissolved oxygen (DO) in our coastal waters. It’s probably more accurate to say upwelling is the local process by which low DO waters from around the world are delivered to our coast’s continental shelf. According to the most recent research coming out of Oregon State University, some of these low DO waters come from the northwest pacific and others from the south. The research suggests, because the ocean’s currents are slowing, the water from the north is losing its DO on its journey. Meanwhile, the water from the south is a different story. This water—which, yes, will eventually upwell off our coast—was originally surface water in the south. Because the ocean’s surface is where atmospheric oxygen is mixed into the ocean, and because this southern water is getting warmer, it’s now holding less DO. This low DO water is then pulled from the surface into the deep ocean and then dragged north via the California undercurrent. It then reaches our coast. Once there, local upwelling pushes it onto our continental shelf, and if the water’s DO is low enough you get hypoxic zones.

If you want the more complicated explanation, I would suggest you read the piece I wrote for OSU’s research extension program Oregon Sea Grant while I was a science communications fellow there.…
If a comment could be a standing ovation, that's what this one would be. Huzzah, Mr. Gilles.
If you're saying that the water from the upwellings is even more depleted than usual due to it feeding into the convection system with less oxygen, that makes more sense. My bad :)
Doom and gloom pieces like this are important and appropriately terrifying. However, I also fear so much negativity can cause the "fuck it" reaction wherein folks go "guess we're fucked, so fuck it." Is this what we're supposed to take away from this article or is there any hope left for our undeserving species?
Doom and Gloom seems to be all Nathan ever writes about.
Poor guy.
Nathan: You turned the progressive work of forward thinking scientists into a reaction piece. This may give you clout as Portland cynic, but consider that you have degraded efforts to react constructively to a fast changing, uncertain future. This region is far from doomed, life will press on, and our quality of life will depend on the degree to which we strive for good despite the bad.
We are all going to die.
yes, trainwreck is right. the meaning of life is that it ends. what do we do once we accept this? savor the gift of every moment we have even (especially?) as we feel it slipping away. mortality, impermanence, fragility... all these have the potential to make our experiences more poignant, our connections much deeper.
Thanks, Nathan, for attempting to wake people the hell up. My only criticism is that you didn't hammer home more forcefully the consequences of human population size on all of this; any thoughtful person can infer it easily, but most people think they have a divine right to breed anyway, and that their children and grandchildren will surely have better lives than they did, by some magical process.

I feel little else but sadness for children I see today, and contempt for the people who are bringing them into the world even now.
So either say fuck it. OR Put lets put all of our energy in to dismantling the industrial infrastructure. This will not only halt some climate change, but also bring us together as a world community with one come goal. living.
Can you (or anyone) show us actual evidence that man's CO2 is causing dangerous global warming?
Keep in mind that Nature puts out 96% of the CO2, man only 4% and Al Gore's ice cores show CO2 increase FOLLOWING temperature by 800 years, unusual weather, melting glaciers, etc., is not proof that man is the cause, the climate was warmer in the medieval, Roman, Egyptian and Minoan times and water vapor causes more greenhouse effect than CO2.

So just what is the evidence anyway?
@JG Miller, let me see if I can help you understand why people think that their children and grandchildren will have better lives. It is not by, as you suggest, "some magical process." Instead, it is the logical conclusion that one comes to when considering the path of human history. Taken as a whole, our history has been a steady march of progress toward greater comfort, freedom, and safety. Sure, there have been generations which have declined relative to their parents, and there have been groups which have declined relative to their competitors, but these are mere blips on the two-hundred thousand year timeline of our species. Now, I understand that a trend line is not always an accurate prediction of the future, and that it is certainly possible that we stand at the beginning of some great reversal of history, but my point is that it is not unreasonable to assume otherwise. It is not unreasonable to see that we have tamed fire, domesticated animals, harnessed electricity, defeated diseases, and even split the atom, and to see that we have used those advancements to steadily improve the quality of human lives, and to assume that the trend will continue. It is not unreasonable to assume that we will solve this problem, even if we don't know how just yet. And let's not forget that every human advancement has come as people shouted from the sidelines that it was hopeless, that it couldn't be done, that it was too dangerous, or that it wasn't needed in any event.

In every era lucky enough to leave behind written documents, there have always been people crying that humanity had left its best days behind it. They claimed that we stood on the precipice of the end of the World. And every single time, they were wrong. For tens of thousands of years, the naysayers have always been wrong. That is why I assume that they will be wrong again.

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