Ocean acidification, its causes, and impacts.
Have you heard about “climate change’s evil twin”? No? Well, it’s ocean acidification. The real threat to our hardly-surviving planet.
The ocean has a pH that is now 8.1. This means it is basic or alkaline. But it is becoming more and more acidic because it keeps absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere, after that it dissolves in seawater, which leads to a decreasing in its pH.
The overload of CO2 is changing the sea, threatening fragile, finite marine life. It is also reducing the key building block in seawater which is carbonate. As a result, this is making it a major difficulty for marine organisms, such as coral and some plankton, to form their shells and skeletons. Even the existing shells are beginning to dissolve! Those animals have to spend more energy to repair their damaged shells which are threatening their survival.
In turn, it is affecting our food security and our livelihoods, and even our global economies, because we rely on healthy coral reefs for our survival, food, coastal protection, and medicines.
So, who is responsible for it? Human activities such as:
- Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas).
- Deforestation. All we have now are fewer plants to absorb CO2.
- Throwing plastics in the water. It leads to ocean acidification because it contains more detrimental bacteria than seawater!
Did you know that the Bering Sea becomes the most acidic ocean on Earth? It reaches a pH of as low as 7.7!
You might be asking if we can reverse ocean acidification. Sabine Mathesius, from the institute for impact research in Potsdam (Germany), said:
“Once the ocean is severely affected by high carbon dioxide, it is virtually impossible to undo these alterations on human-generation timescale”.
Do we still have hope?
If we act immediately, it won’t be too late to save our oceans!
The BBC published a new scientific review in the journal Nature, that the ocean is “remarkably resilient” and could fully recover from the negative impacts of human activities over the next three decades.
The best ways to limit ocean acidification are:
- Acting on climate change.
- Reducing the harm to marine lives, on the personal level through daily actions, and on the international companies level through pressure on them to change their harmful commercial actions to the sea.
- Reducing your Carbon footprint.
As Edith Widder said:
“Our biggest challenges for the ocean and the planets are problems of perception. People need to understand that species extinctions, habitat destruction, ocean acidification, and pollution are all chipping away at the resilience of the thin layer of life that sustains us Spaceship Earth”.