Ocean Acidification Essay

1129 words - 5 pages

One very critical, damaging environmental problem caused by society and technology is known as ocean acidification or “OA” for short. When carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium minerals. Referred to by scientists as “The other carbon problem” (the first being Global Warming), ocean acidification are these chemical reactions. In other words, ocean acidification is caused when ocean water absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which then causes a reduction in seawater pH and other dreadful effects on the sea. This has very harmful effects on not only the seawater, but also all organisms under water, directly or indirectly. As you will read, we, the industry, have made this such a major issue. What goes around comes around as we have been affected by the curse of our own wrongdoing. Moreover, the government has stepped up and has showed its concern on this issue.
To many marine organisms, calcium carbonate is essential as it is used toward building their skeletons and shells. The seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals in areas in which most life assembles in the ocean. As a result of ocean acidification, many parts of the ocean become undersaturated with these minerals. In effect, this will, for the most part, affect the way some of these marine organisms maintain and produce their shells and/or skeletons since they use the surrounding water to build these protective bodily layers. Due to undersaturation, these organisms have to work harder to build their shells or skeletons, forcing them to exert more energy in the process. Therefore, they will have less energy to perform other essential survival tasks such as gathering food and reproducing. When the acidity is too high in the water, the shells and skeletons of these marine organisms dissolve. As you can see, this will make it almost impossible for such organisms to survive and we are only adding weight to their burden.
Society has a great effect on the undersaturation on these areas in the ocean. The pH of surface ocean waters had fallen by 0.1 pH units since the start of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, the ocean’s acidity has increased by about 30%. Fossil fuel powered machines are the main source of this drop in pH of surface ocean waters. These machines emit billions of tons of carbon dioxide as well as some greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere. In effect, these toxic elements are being absorbed by the ocean causing OA. The result of this is evident in the physical structure of these small fish containing skeleton or shells. The skeletons and shells observed by scientists have shown to be weakened and damaged by the ocean’s acidity. Obviously, we are at fault and we are only hurting ourselves in the long-run.
Although fish have felt the direct impact (physically) of OA, ocean acidification has...

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