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‘Acidification’: Climate Change's Equally Evil Twin

The ocean covers 70% of our eco systems, so why are we disrespecting her so much? She gives us almost all the air we breath and the life we’re living, had it not been for the oceans ecosystems, climate change would most definitely of wiped us out by now.

In the red zone

Oceans absorb and process 90% of global warming created by us since the 1970’s, there is so much carbon dioxide entering into our seas at this rate that even the oceans are struggling to keep up. 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the ocean since the beginning of the industrial era which equals to 22 million tons per day! Can you imagine how hard our ecosystems must be working to keep up with that, also to mention that the rising sea temperatures are causing drastic coral bleaching which means all the remaining sea life has to handle 22 millions ton of carbon dioxide a day with 75% of coral that’s already been bleached and destroyed. That’s a lot of high percentages I’ve mentioned, and it’s scary but we need to know how far into the red zone we’ve gotten. Without drastic change we may pass the point of no return. (207)

When Carbon Dioxide dissolves in sea water, the water becomes more acidic and the ocean's PH drops due to this. This process is known as ‘Ocean Acidification’; it is relatively new term, in fact not huge amounts is known however what is definite is the impact it will have on our oceans. I myself had not heard about this until recently whilst reading an article titled ‘The evil twin of climate warming’ (Alfred-Wegener-Institut). In the last 200 years alone the water has become 30% more acidic. (295)

What does Ocean Acidification mean for our waters?

We can’t see or feel the effects of acidification because it’s all happening underwater, however it’s most definitely happening right now! Scientist have not seen or recorded this acidification occur so fast and rapidly ever in history. The problem with the ocean chemistry changing so fast is that it does not give marine life enough time to adapt. Our ecosystems develop over millions of years, so in the space of 200 years and already seeing 30% increase in ocean acidity is highly alarming. Most species will not be able to adapt fast enough and will in time become extinct aside from a small percentage of bottom feeder marine life. (412)

The acidification process is responsible for binding up carbonate ions and making them less abundant, which means shells and skeletons will dissolve extremely fast. Marine life that will suffer the most from this will be our coral reefs, mussels and molluscs family. If our acidification increases at the rate we are at now, all of these species will disappear. And of course one knows the circular knock on effect of destroying basic fundamental biodiversities. Corals the main home for our sea life creatures will no longer be able to house them, therefore sea life will decrease and effect our fisheries greatly. For those communities depending on fish as a staple food intake, they will no longer have that as a food security and will suffer greatly as fish will become more and more scarce.

However, an economic collapse will be the least of our worries, if all the coral becomes bleached and acidified we will have no ocean life and who will take in the carbon emissions then? The ocean is responsible for taking 30% of human carbon emissions and right now is approximately storing 93% of carbon dioxide.

We need to really act before it’s too late!

What can we do?

The UN has proposed new rules to reduce greenhouse emissions and is putting pressure for sustainable fishing industries, If you want to be more informed on the fishing organisations and the effects of it watch ‘Seaspiracy’ to uncover the truth of the industry. It’s a huge eye opener and definitely worth the watch!

If you’re wondering what you can do to help combat this crises, small things do make a difference!

  • Buy seasonal and local produce (no strawberries in the winter!)

  • Limit your meat intake (consider becoming more plant based)

  • Check labels and buy only from sustainable fish brands

  • Reduce, re-use and recycle! (Always bring your own shopping bag instead of buying a new plastic one)

This crisis is no longer a future discussion, it’s happening right now and we need to act. As a consumer we do make a difference, so let’s start making changes and getting our oceans back and happy!


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