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Ramifications Of Ocean Acidification Essay

1583 words - 7 pages

Ocean acidification is an increasing problem that many people do not realize or understand. Ocean acidification is a result of excessive amounts of anthropogenic carbon dioxide dissolving in the ocean. The carbon cycle helps dissolve carbon dioxide into ocean water for photosynthetic sea creatures, however, too much goes in and not enough comes out. The excess carbon dioxide reacts with the water to form carbonic acid, which is a weak acid (Ocean Carbon Uptake). Carbonic acid has such an unstable bond that it loses a proton and decomposes into two bicarbonate anions and a hydrogen cation. The hydrogen cation is the most common proton that is lost. The current problem with the ocean is the formation of bicarbonate because it impedes calcification in corals, crustaceans, and other oceanic creatures that rely on a hard calcium carbonate surface for survival (Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem). If something isn’t done within the next 500 to 1,000 years the ocean will suffer a dramatic drop in the potential for hydrogen and the ocean’s creatures will die out.

Furthermore the ocean in a way is an organism, and just like any organism, it has a set of interdependent parts working to keep the organism healthy. With anthropogenic carbon emissions increasing every year the oceans can’t keep up with the constant changes in pH. The only way the ocean can attempt to keep up with the constantly changing water chemistry is by dissolving the hard calcium carbonate shells of plankton and crustaceans and skeletons of corals. The potential for hydrogen in the ocean today is 8.1 as opposed to 8.2 which was the pH of the ocean before the industrial revolutions and the ideal pH for most oceanic creatures. Allowing the ocean to reach a potential for hydrogen that is less than seven would be tremendously irresponsible because many oceanic creatures, especially juvenile fish, will not be able to withstand the sudden changes. Carbon emissions are affecting the ocean in a similar way they are affecting the breathing air. If humans breathe in too many bad chemicals they will die, and the same goes for fish. If a viable solution to ocean acidification is not practiced in the field of ocean chemistry within the next 1,000 years not only the ocean will suffer from this, but human beings as well.

Likewise there are multiple ways of reversing the effects of carbon dioxide on the ocean, however, not all will have permanent effects. The two ways that are highly recommended in fixing the ocean’s chemistry are chemical and natural pH balancers. Chemical pH balancers would be different bases that react with the carbonic acid to form a salt and water. This process is called acid-base neutralization, and in any acid-base neutralization a salt and water are formed. Natural pH balancers are things like crushed coral, which is a form of calcium carbonate. The most commonly used household pH buffer for an aquarium is sodium bicarbonate. A possible way of...

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