Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on January 15, 2008
If you thought because carbon dioxide is a gas it only effects the air, think again.
One of the many places carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels “goes” is into the ocean, where it is “absorbed” and makes the oceans more acidic. And while I don’t really understand exactly how it works, the problem is crystal clear: higher CO2 levels in the air could destroy the world’s coral reefs in 30-50 years.
The atmosphere and the ocean are intricately linked – big surprise – and as more CO2 goes into the air, it combines at higher rates with carbonate ions in the ocean, creating carbonic acid. And while no one likes the idea of swimming in an acidic sea, those who call the water home don’t have much of a choice. The real issue is that carbonate ions are vital to corals who use the stuff to make the intricate shapes many of us are fond of. More CO2 means more competition for carbonate ions, which means less coral production. Estimates reveal that over 1 million kinds of fish and other coral-dependent species would be lost if coral production ends.
According to ipsnews.net, a call to action asking “all societies and governments to immediately and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions” was issued by more than 50 marine scientists back in November. The fear is that no one really even understood the link between ocean acidification and CO2 emissions until 2004, and since then the data shows an alarming rise in pH – as much as 1/3 of a pH unit over the past 50 years. “Ocean acidification due to increased atmospheric CO2 is accelerating… Reducing CO2 emissions is the only way to prevent further damage to coral reefs,” warned these experts.
And coral is not all that’s at risk. Higher CO2 levels affect plankton, the organisms that underlie the entire marine food web. The ocean is perhaps the most precariously balanced ecosystem on earth, and it sustains a significant portion of the earth’s terrestrial population.
So, here’s another urgent call to world leaders regarding the threat of climate change: we simply must change our practices, and now.
Aren’t we something like 75% salt water anyway?