The problem of Ocean acidification

Termed the ‘other carbon dioxide problem’ ocean acidification is becoming an increasing threat to the world’s oceans. Ocean acidification is the result of increased carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from human activity such as burning fossil fuels, cement manufacturing and deforestation. The ocean is a carbon sink with 25-30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions being absorbed by the ocean, equivalent to ca. 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide absorbed hourly. This absorption of carbon dioxide on such a large scale is causing the oceans to become more acidic.

This is bad news for many marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers such as shell fish and corals. The more acidic water means that it is harder and more costly for many species to grow and develop. If the ocean continues to increase in acidity, reefs across the planet could be in dissolution states, which basically means coral structures will be breaking down in the increased acidity. As coral reefs are home to the widest biodiversity on the planet, if this were to happen it could be detrimental for many species.

Moreover, the effect of increasing acidity of the ocean could also impact countries economically worldwide. In the Northwest Pacific the effect of the acidity has already cost the oyster industry US$110 million, which puts 3,200 jobs at risk. With a growing population across the plant, achieving food security in the face of ocean acidification could be crucially important.

So what can you do to reduce the effect of ocean acidification on marine organisms?

  • Reduce your fossil fuel consumption- switch your energy provider to one which uses renewable energy sources. Drive less, use more public transport, car share or walk.
  • Be a conscientious consumer- don’t buy product that contain palm oil for example, as most palm oil plantations contribute to deforestation of the rain forest which is a massive carbon store.
  • Promote healthy marine environments- healthy ecosystem are more resilient to stresses such as ocean acidification. You can do this by simple things like doing a litter pick when you go down to your local beach.
  • Whilst diving reduce your impact on the marine environment with good trim and avoid touching marine organisms.
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