Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels have led to a great increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Since the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased from about 280 parts per million to above 390 parts per million; and recently has been calculated to be rising 1.5-2 parts per million per year (Kudela, 2013). This sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 has had an impact on the ocean, and can be seen by the increase in the levels of gaseous CO2 in the seawater.
When the CO2 rich atmosphere comes in contact with the surface of the ocean, CO2 is readily absorbed which causes the pH of seawater to become more acidic. Many enzymes and processes that occur in the ocean, like test building, are pH sensitive (Calderia, 2003). Any change in the pH would result in the breakdown of important functions to which the outcome is uncertain. Many marine organisms, such as corals, algae, and pretty much anything with a shell, rely on CaCO3 to form their hard parts. An increase in ocean acidity causes this CaCO3 to rapidly dissolve, and makes it generally harder for these organisms to build their calcifying parts (Kleypas, 1999).
If we maintain this current rate of CO2 increase, the pH of the ocean is expected to decrease by 0.5 by 2100 (Kudela, 2013). Although there are still those who refuse to believe that the rising levels of CO2 have an adverse effect on the environment, one cannot argue that there isn’t evidence for ocean acidification. If we don’t get on the same page now, there may be a day when you go on vacation to Hawaii and there are no longer and beautiful corals or their fishes to see while snorkeling.
When it comes to ocean acidification, the media typically focuses on the corals and shell building organisms. These organisms are undoubtedly facing a crisis, but the damage does not stop there. Every organism in the ocean is at risk, and many other important processes and functions are at risk as well. This could lead to a complete extinction of life in the oceans. The repercussions of ocean acidification do not stop at the waters, but extend on a global scale. Six percent of the global intake of protein comes from the oceans, and supports an export trade of $93 billion plus (Le Quesne et al., 2011). With so much life dependent on the ocean’s resources, it is important that we make a global effort now, and in future generations, to come up with a solution no matter what we believe the problem is.
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent mass burning of fossil fuels, we have steadily been increasing the concentration of anthropogenic CO2 in our atmosphere. Although most of this carbon is stored in the atmosphere, approximately 25 percent is absorbed by the ocean’s surface. When CO2 reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid, hydrogen ions are released resulting in a decrease in pH. Before the Industrial Revolution, the ocean’s pH was stable at...