One of the fun things about about chasing AGW links, as a balance to all the heated rhetoric and wretched code, is wandering into corners of science I would never otherwise encounter. Today's find is a study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute investigating the effects of increased CO2 levels on shell-building sea creatures. (Some fraction of CO2 dissolves into water, creating the relatively weak carbonic acid, which nonetheless has the potential to screw up deposition of shells built of calcium, which is normally dissolved by acids.)
The study used gaseous CO2 concentrations well beyond those currently observed to see what might happen if we keep dumping it into the atmosphere. It seems that some of the critters did in fact have trouble growing their shells under extreme conditions, but others liked it just fine and even grew heavier shells. Us crab and lobster munchers are in good shape, you oyster and uni fans, maybe not so much.
In a way, this isn't very surprising. It's well known that most organisms have collections of genes that are normally repressed and inactive, but might become active depending on conditions in the environment or internal to the individual. The critters we eat for seafood dinner have been around in more-or-less similar forms for much longer than Homo saps. Their evolutionary history could very easily include atmospheric and climatic conditions well beyond our current experience, and they may have genes evolved during those periods sitting around ready to become active at need. Might be some interesting research possibilities there when sequencing gets even cheaper.
(Found via Open Markets.)