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Climate change is killing ocean life off California. The state is ready to act

Climate change is killing ocean life off California. The state is ready to act
A surfer rides a wave at Surfrider Beach in Malibu. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: James McClintock’s op-ed article on ocean acidification paints a troubling yet truthful picture of how carbon dioxide is harming marine life today.

Thankfully, California is taking action. Led by the estimable Costa Mesa-based Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the state’s Ocean Protection Council is in the final stages of publishing an ocean acidification action plan.

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Indeed, there are ways we can locally address acidification. We can reduce runoff and other pollution from reaching our bays and harbors, and we can plant more kelp and seagrass.

Although these are effective short-term strategies, in the long term, we must reduce pollution at the source and curtail the burning of fossil fuel. Our atmosphere, like our oceans, is a global commons on which all life depends.

Jonathan Parfrey, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the group Climate Resolve.

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To the editor: As McClintock indicates, rising ocean acidity poses major environmental issues. He cites locations in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, and results of reduced calcium deposits in corals, mollusks, krill, clownfish and sharks.

He also mentions “complex seafloor communities.” I need to point out that we appear to have a related major environmental issue in one such complex seafloor community here in Southern California.

Highly productive, long-lived, megafaunal assemblages living in the waters off Oxnard were documented in 1974. However, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report, these appear to have become impoverished or to have disappeared by 2008.

In other words, one “canary” living in a nearby oceanic coalmine may have died. Possible reasons for the die-off include anoxia from recent massive algal blooms or agricultural chemicals. But, to date, no state or federal agency has acknowledged or offered to look at or study it.

Dennis Lees, Leucadia, Calif.

The writer is a marine biologist.

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