Archive for the 'definitions' Category

Published by Rosalind on 25 Nov 2008

Ocean Acidity Increasing Rapidly

Many organisms inhabit the rocky and sandy intertidal areas of the Pacific Ocean

Many organisms - including barnacles and mussels - inhabit the rocky and sandy intertidal areas of the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest.

A study of the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Tatoosh Island (Washington State) measured water pH, salinity and temperature every half-hour for eight years. Results were dramatic and showed that the acidity was rising sharply, shown by a fast decline in ocean pH. The study also showed that the local organisms, particularly the Californian mussel, were quite sensitive to CO2 changes. You can read about it here: Marine Life faces ‘Acid Threat’.

Related Question: What is pH?

One pH definition is: “a logarithmic scale, from 1 to 14, used to describe the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.” Acid things taste tart or sour, like lemons. Alkaline (or basic) things are slippery, like soap. Blood in the human body should be close to 7.4 on the pH scale and is slightly basic. Dissolving carbon dioxide in water makes it more acidic. A pH level of less than 7 indicates an acidic solution while a pH greater than 7 indicates an alkaline solution. 7–which is neutral (neither acidic or basic) is the pH level of distilled water. pH stands for “potential Hydrogen.”

On a logarithmic scale, each increase of one unit–from five to six, for example–represents ten times greater or less. So something that has a pH of 1 is ten times more acidic that something with a pH of 2 (or ten times less basic).

Another logarithmic scale that is used in science is the Richter scale, used to measure the strength of earthquakes. On the Richter scale, an earthquake measuring 5 releases ten times the energy of an earthquakes measuring 4; an earthquake measuring 6 releases 100 (ten times ten) times the energy of an earthquake measuring 4.

The short version is: remember that the difference between a pH of 4 and a pH of 3 is much more than just one unit. So pH 3 is very much more acidic than pH 4, because it is on a logarithmic scale!

Dictionary Definition:

pH is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution; it is the logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen-ion concentration in gram equivalents per liter of solution (Ex: .0000001 gram atom of hydrogen ion per liter yields a numeric reciprocal of ten million, the log of ten million equals 7, therefore 7 is the pH): a pH of 7, the value for pure distilled water, is regarded as neutral; pH values from 7 to 0 indicate increasing acidity and from 7 to 14 indicate increasing alkalinity (from YourDictionary.com)

Published by Diana on 14 May 2008

Your Carbon Footprint

I had a conversation today with some friends about reducing gas use. It got me thinking about my overall carbon footprint–how much oil/natural gas/petroleum I use–both on a daily basis and on a lifetime basis. What goes into a personal carbon footprint?

How much traveling you do: cars, planes, trains–they all use energy
How much traveling your food does: the farther your food comes from, the more energy it uses getting to you.
How much fertilizer your food requires to grow (and how much goes on your lawn): many fertilizers are made from petroleum sources
How much lawn you have: mowing and fertilizing a lawn takes a lot of oil–more than trees (which absorb carbon) or shrubs (which also absorb carbon)
How big your house is: bigger houses use more resources, both to heat and cool and to build
How big your car is and how much you drive

A tiny step I’ve taken toward a smaller carbon footprint: I grow some of my food–not much, just a little–and I try to shop at my local farmers’ market. I’m also trying not to drive on Fridays.