Grandad – What were Cockles?

Sea molluscs of the world are going to have a challenging time over the next eighty seven years. Their challenge is to adapt to the increasing acidification that scientists expect the sea to undergo or become extinct, save for a small presence in zoos and aquaria. The seas are becoming increasing acidic and there is a close (and expected) correlation between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (which is certainly caused by human activity) and the rapid acidification of the seas.
This process is expected to happen more quickly than at any time that it has happened in the past three hundred million years. It is very difficult to see how the process can be slowed down, never mind halted, as human continue to swell their numbers and continue to burn copious quantities of fossil fuels.

I doubt if eighty seven years will be sufficient time for the molluscs to change their calcium carbonate shells into something that can resist the PH levels expected in 2001.

Of course there will be other sea life that will not be able to adapt and will not survive; corals will be unlikely to survive. When you lose one part of the food chain, you will lose the animals that live on the lost part.

Today humans eat cockles, mussels and whelks and periwinkles in temperate climes. They eat barnacles. They also eat large quantities of oysters as well as the fish that eat these animals. An acidic ocean is not a prospect that bodes well for humanity.

In 2100 I shall be dead, but there should be billions of other people alive and some of them will hear the sad song of Molly Malone and ask what were cockles and mussel, and perhaps even the ghost of Molly Malone will no longer bother to wheel her wheel barrow the the broad and narrow streets of Dublin’s fair city.

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