High levels of carbon dioxide are putting creatures in Long Island Sound at risk. That's the finding of a new study examining the economic impact of climate change on our shoreline.
Here's the basic chemistry: atmospheric carbon dioxide -- the stuff that gets pumped out of cars and power plants -- can dissolve into our oceans. And when it does, it bumps up acidity, and decreases oxygen levels. Those changes can make it hard for animals like shellfish to survive.
A new study by the National Resources Defense Council is quantifying that risk in numbers. The NRDC said shellfish harvests have accounted for $17.3 million in annual state commerce over the past 10 years -- money that could be lost, if rising CO2 levels aren't addressed.
Writing in the journal Nature: Climate Change, the NRDC and scientists from nearly a dozen additional institutions say Connecticut is at "high risk" for economic harm in the years to come. According to the report, changes in ocean chemistry have already brought nearly $110 million in economic losses to the Pacific Northwest.
In the near-term, the report recommends Connecticut do more to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. It also says biologists at a federal fisheries lab in Milford should selectively breed shellfish that are more resistant to changes brought on by climate change.