*Ocean becoming more acidic
Since humankind began burning fossil fuels and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere during the industrial revolution, the oceans have been acting like massive sponges by absorbing up to half of this CO2. Although it is a good thing for our atmosphere as with all that extra carbon dioxide lying around, our planet would have heated up tremendously. But it is terrible news for the oceans.
These oceans have been taking up the carbon dioxide emitted by humans for over 200 years, and have become almost 30 percent more acidic. If we continue with the current course of carbon dioxide emissions, our oceans are on track to become more acidic than they have ever in 14 million years.
Human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation have led to a tremendous increase in the atmosphere's carbon dioxide content. As a result, the seawater absorbs more CO2, which leads to a series of chemical reactions leading to a higher concentration of hydrogen ions in the water. This process has severe adverse implications for the ocean and the marine creatures that line there.
The ocean's average pH value is now around 8.1, which is basic (alkaline). However, as the ocean continues to absorb more carbon dioxide, it's pH value will fall and the ocean will become more acidic.
The acidification of the ocean is stressing the aquatic life. It softens the shells of scallops. It also slows the molting of lobsters, crabs, and more species. Moreover, the acidic environment weakens the corals, which are particularly important because they provide homes for numerous sea creatures. The disturbance in normal pH confuses the fish and disrupts their sense of smell.
Research shows clear evidence that an increase in carbon dioxide emission and a rise in ocean acidity today is attributed to human activities. As of now, the oceans around the world are acidifying faster than they have in 300 million years, we need to put an immediate stop to it. Humans need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly. We need to start on a personal level by reducing our carbon footprint. Such drastic measures are crucial if we are to prevent further human-driven acidification and preserve the marine ecosystem.
- NOAA (2020). Ocean cidification. Accessed from https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/ocean-coasts/ocean-acidification
- S.M. Sosdian (2018, September 18). Constraining the evolution of Neogene ocean carbonate chemistry using the boron isotope pH proxy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.06.017
- Jennifer, B. (2018). OCEAN ACIDIFICATION. Accessed from: https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/invertebrates/ocean-acidification#section_77