The Sea Of Change: An Increase In Ocean Acidification

1695 words - 7 pages

The ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet, it covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and accounts for approximately 91% of all water found on the planet. Because of it’s large and staggering appearance, it is frequently misinterpreted to be a stable and resilient environment unaffected by humans. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The ocean is not only dynamic and sensitive, but it is also severely impacted by our lifestyle choices. Ocean acidification, which refers to the reduction of pH levels in the ocean is caused by an uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.(NOAA) Ocean acidification alters the ocean’s chemical makeup creating a slightly more acidic pH level; this process has very severe consequences for not only ocean water but for the marine life that reside there. If current levels of carbon dioxide continue to follow trend than the ocean we know today could be reduced to an acidic pool to harsh for most ocean life as we know it. But even slight changes in the pH balance can have catastrophic effects on marine life. For example, only a .1 decrease in ocean pH has caused 10% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral coverage to die off. It is crucial that humans begin to reduce greenhouse emissions and continue to work towards a cleaner source of energy to deter from destroying the ocean and it’s inhabitants.

Since the commencement of the Industrial Revolution the ocean has absorbed 30% of all carbon emitted into the atmosphere, which translates to approximately 525 gigatons of carbon dioxide. The largest and most threatening of the contributors is the burning of coal and the emissions released by automobiles. For example, the average car releases 6 tons of carbon dioxide annually, and the average household produces 12 tons of carbon annually. According to CO2 Now, carbon emissions have increased by 2.1% from 2011 to 2012; or 9.47 billion tons to 9.7 tons in just one year.(CO2 Now) This number is projected to increase at an even faster rate as the world becomes increasingly more populated and the demand for energy rises. Mankind’s reliance on fossil fuels as a primary source of energy is swiftly changing almost all of the Earth’s natural environments and processes. It is causing fluctuations in both atmospheric temperatures and in the ocean’s chemical makeup. Eventually these potentially threatening changes will force mankind to simply adapt, or perish.

Many individuals may wonder how scientists can effectively project the future of our oceans despite no historical recordings of ocean acidification. Scientists have found a real life petri dish of seawater conditions similar to what scientists predict the ocean to be like by the year 2050.(The Ocean’s Death March) The location is Castello Aragonese, a tiny island found in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Underneath the island there are large bubbling volcanic vents emitting very large quantities of CO2 , this quirk of geology gives scientists a window 50 years into the future exactly where...

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