If you have a bad case of heartburn, you might take something like Tums to alleviate it. Tums and other brands like it, are acid neutralizers. They are made of chalk, also known as calcium carbonate. The acid in your stomach reacts with the chalk to make water and CO2. You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with the price of tea in China. Nothing at all, but it may well effect the price of shellfish there. That’s because shellfish use chalk to build their shells, too. Of course, the oceans are nowhere near as acidic as the acids the stomach produces, but it is still hard for any shellfish to build their shells. Some CO2 that dissolves in the ocean becomes carbonic acid, which also reacts with chalk, albeit far less aggressively. This breaking down makes shell building difficult. While the extinction of oysters would pose an economic threat, there is a much larger threat from the most abundant shelled animals in the ocean; coral, but that is a story for another time. This map illustrates the economic threat in the US, but makes no mention of Asian nations, like Japan, which produces thousands of metric tons of shellfish. Continuing drought of course is an economic threat, but NASA may have a new tool to help mitigate it. It is hoped that the satellite will be able to detect and evaluate moisture levels on the ground. The satellite should be operational within the month, and knowing that a drought is starting could help mitigate some of its effects by allowing policy makers to regulate water usage in advance of a catastrophic shortage.
In other news, unseasonably cold temperatures in Raleigh, North Carolina hit many business owners hard, retailers in particular. On cold days, people naturally try to avoid leaving their warm homes and offices as often as possible. Unfortunately, unseasonable temperatures continue to plague large swaths of the US. Furthermore, thousands of people are without power after a severe winter storm blanketed much of the east coast with snow. Several roads from South Carolina to New York were covered in ice, making for treacherous driving conditions.
Unfortunately, the tragic events we reported on are in no way a full reflection of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our headlines from the past week, please click here.