When carbon dioxide combines with seawater, it produces carbonic acid which increases the acidity of the water. And, it is happening for many years and causes uneven ocean ecosystems.
Since the thriving industrial revolution, the betting on fossil fuels has caused an excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And, it is being absorbed by our earth’s oceans.
In the seawater, chemical reactions occur with carbon dioxide that lowers seawater pH, reduces carbonate concentration, and reduces saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate materials.
Consequently, the ocean’s chemistry becomes more acidic, carbonate ions face difficultly to form. The carbonate ions are used by marine creatures, for synthesize their calcium carbonate shells and skeletons.
As the pH of the ocean changes, the ocean becomes unconcentrated with these minerals, which affects the creatures to maintain their shells.
Since the growth of industries, the pH balance of ocean waters has dropped by 0.1 pH units, equivalent to a 30% increase of water acidity.
The acidity has never dropped down below 0.6 units since the last 300 million years. This is likely to increase more if we continue to burn fossil fuels frequently.
Ocean acidification and the harsh reality of the marine ecosystem
Ocean acidification may alter the ecosystems of millions of years. It has the influence to contaminate shellfish that humans consume and sicken marine life.
Right now, the ocean is on pace to become 150% more acidic by 2100. And this ocean acidification is an unswerving consequence of human-made carbon emissions.
Humans’ continual release of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere has led to ocean acidification.
This process has to lead to the destruction of many marine ecosystems and the plants. One of the most beautiful occurrences in nature — the coral reefs — are dying.
Coral reefs used to be a massive hub of life and colour underneath the water hosting a plethora of organisms within. Now many are bleached white due to higher water temperatures and have sustained damage to their structure due to increased acidification.
Coral bleaching occurs in which corals lose their colour due to extrinsic factors such as pH (being too acidic) and increasing temperature exposure.
The consequences of ocean acidification are not limited to marine life. We have been inexplicably connected to the ocean, we have utilized it for recreation, transportation, medicine, and most importantly food.
It is estimated, we consume approximately 1.5 billion fish each year. A decline in fish availability could have severe economic and social implications for us.
How can we ensure the reversal of this issue?
A most effective measure to combat this problem is to decrease carbon pollution.
Other solutions have been proposed to slow the acidification process or protect their environments — mainly coral reefs.
Although, these are mostly bandaged solutions unable to recover the situation. Unfortunately, reducing carbon pollution is a challenge because it involves many factors.
Individuals can act their roles to limit their carbon footprint. Reducing your carbon pollution is simple if you unplug the appliances after use.
Many websites may help you to calculate your unique carbon footprint and offer easy solutions to help bring that number down.
The individual effort is not insignificant at all. A collective effort may potentially make a great impact.
It is high time; we work together to reduce pollution or acquire new technologies that can reduce the world’s current carbon footprints.