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The Acidic Blues

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Scientists say that the Oceans are now 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the industrial revolution about 250 years ago. Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of the increased amount of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans. The rapid rise in atmospheric CO2 is being caused by human activities.  These activities include the burning of fossil fuels (emissions from cars, airplanes, power plants) and deforestation. As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide in order to maintain equilibrium with the atmosphere.

[creativ_alertbox icon=”exclamation-sign” colour=”red” custom_colour=””]Acidification is affecting all oceans in an almost similar manner and India with its vast shoreline and dependency on marine life will be adversely affected.[/creativ_alertbox]

The Adverse Effects of Ocean Acidification: The Alliance for Climate Education has created a video on Ocean Acidification and it’s effects.

Ocean acidification could affect marine food webs and lead to substantial changes in commercial fish stocks, threatening protein supply and food security for millions of people as well as the multi-billion dollar fishing industry. The Coral reefs provide fish habitat, generate billions of dollars annually in tourism, protect shorelines from erosion and flooding, and provide the foundation for tremendous biodiversity, equivalent to that found in tropical rain forests. [creativ_pullleft colour=”red” colour_custom=”” text=”It is feared that by mid-century, Ocean Acidification may render most regions chemically inhospitable to coral reefs. “]

These and other acidification related changes could affect wealth of marine goods and services, such as our ability to use the ocean to manage waste, to provide chemicals to make new medicines, and to benefit from its natural capacity to regulate climate. Ocean acidification will affect humans too!  It will affect the food we eat since most of our shellfish requires calcium carbonate to form or to fortify their shells. According to CLIMATE INTERPRETER marine organisms possessing shells (many mollusks, crustaceans, corals, coralline algae, foramaniferans) need available carbonate ions to form the calcium carbonate (CaCo3) that comprises their shells and ocean acidification is robbing these organisms of their necessary building blocks. Many of the fish we eat are also dependent on shelled animals for their food source, so the entire food chain is in jeopardy. According to another study conducted for the Journal of Experimental Botany (2013), elevated CO2 could aid the growth, spread, and success of invasive species of algae which also comes at a cost to the ecosystem.

The acidic waters from the CO2 seeps can dissolve shells and also make it harder for shells to grow in the first place. (Photo Credit: Laetitia Plaisance)
The acidic waters from the CO2 seeps can dissolve shells and also make it harder for shells to grow in the first place. (Photo Credit: Laetitia Plaisance)

[creativ_pullleft colour=”red” colour_custom=”” text=”The sustainable living mantra ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ also applies to the Ocean Acidification crisis. “]

It is imperative to bring in measure to protect marine habitats and wildlife so that the ocean is more resilient and can bounce back from the damage that has already been caused. It is also important to preserve existing habitats and to identify more areas that need protection. Monitoring pollution and nutrient run-off helps protect coral reefs, so they can be healthy enough to withstand global warming and ocean acidification. Purchasing products that are grown in coexistence with forests and rainforests decreases the need for deforestation for agriculture. Even eating sustainable seafood can make a difference, because healthy fish populations are essential to the overall success of the coral reefs and the ocean.

Ocean acidification is happening right now, and it will definitely have a noticeable impact on our lives.  But ocean acidification is not just affecting us, we are affecting it.  In essence, humans are the problem and the solution when it comes to climate change and ocean acidification. We started it, but can we stop it?

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