Today on Planet 100: Ocean Acidification 101 (Video)
If you think that overfishing and plastic pollution are the only ocean concerns...think again. Ominously referred to as "global warming's evil twin," ocean acidification threatens life across the world's oceans. Today, Planet 100 brings you Ocean Acidification 101.What is it?
Ocean Acidification occurs because we burn too many fossil fuels—to support our unsustainable lifestyles—causing excessive amounts of CO2 to be emitted into the atmosphere.
The more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs, the lower the pH level drops and the more acidic the water becomes. This change is already underway and affecting the ocean's chemistry and at all levels.
Impact on Marine Life
The change in the ocean's chemistry is playing havoc with marine life. The shells of crustaceans are softening or thickening, impacting their ability to survive.
While this is good news for jellyfish whose numbers are exploding; shellfish are struggling, causing the food chain to be thrown off-balance. Coral reefs, considered keystone habitat for the oceans, are either calcifying or dissolving which impacts all marine life.
Impact on People
Ocean acidification spells global disaster for humans. Fish stocks will collapse, coral reefs will die off, food supplies will run out, and millions of people living in coastal communities will be displaced.
And as the ocean loses its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, its ability to regulate our global climate and supply oxygen will falter, resulting in huge changes in weather patterns and breathable air.
Can it be Reversed?
While ocean acidification can't be reversed, it can be slowed by cutting back on CO2. Or we can look to geo-engineering for possible solutions.
One hotly debated geo-engineering strategy is dumping huge quantities iron into the ocean, causing a bloom of phytoplankton which sucks up CO2 and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Not surprisingly this approach is rife with variables and unexpected consequences.
How Can You Help?
The best way to fight ocean acidification is to dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions by using less gasoline for our cars and less electricity in our homes. AND if you have the budget, contribute to direct carbon absorption projects like rainforest protection and biochar agriculture.
Check out the Sigrouney Weaver-narrated documentary Acid Test to learn more about one of the greatest threats to our little blue planet.