In his book Pale Blue Dot, legendary scientist Carl Sagan talked about humans’ responsibility to “preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” Sagan’s description of Earth is nothing short of inspirational, but if scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are correct in their findings, the dot won’t be pale blue much longer.
The researchers found that climate change is significantly impacting phytoplankton—microscopic algae at the bottom of the aquatic food chain. While water molecules in the ocean don’t absorb the blue spectrum of sunlight—reflecting it back and creating the appearance of a blue ocean instead—phytoplankton reflect green light, endowing phytoplankton-heavy areas with greener hues than other regions.
#photooftheday: Our ocean’s colors are changing. As temperatures continue to warm, oceans will turn deeper shades of blue and green. In warmer climates, that'll mean bluer waters as algae populations fall. Near the poles, algae blooms will turn waters deeper shades of green. pic.twitter.com/DPmck7WujH
— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) February 6, 2019
As phytoplankton migrate to compensate for higher ocean acidity and temperature variance, the colors of Earth from space will likely see huge shifts as well.
People are lamenting this latest evidence of human activity’s impact on Earth’s appearance.
I'll miss you… blue.
— Richard Klein (@RichTKlein) February 6, 2019
This sums up my feelings… pic.twitter.com/ndsA6PjzPD
— Any Democratic Candidate 2020 (@AppleCiderRadio) February 6, 2019
There goes the little blue planet 🥵😱😭
— Alison Sykora 🕷 (@albachick) February 6, 2019
The insidious effects of climate change have long been public knowledge and climate change continues to be one of the most urgent political issues facing countries all over the world.
The effects of a changing ocean could prove to be even more damaging than a change in visual appearance.