Raise Awareness to end Ocean Acidification
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Ocean Acidification is the gradual decrease in ocean pH, changing the water in the ocean from neutral to acidic. An estimated 30% to 40% of CO2 emissions from human activities are absorbed by the ocean. As of today, the pH decreased to 8.14 from 8.25 at the start of the industrial revolution. This is a 35% increase in [H+] ion concentration, with half of this drastic change taking place within the last 30 years. This is 100 times faster than any ocean acidity change in the last 20 million years!
Ocean Acidification over the years
Ocean Acidification is caused when there is excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is absorbed by the ocean. Over the years carbon emissions have steadily increased causing the pH of seawater to decrease, causing the oceans to become more acidic
Process of Ocean Acidification
Factories and other human activities release CO2 into the atmosphere → The CO2 is absorbed by the ocean → Chemical reactions occur which lower the seawater's pH
Effect of Ocean Acidification
- Multi-Billion dollar commercial fishing and shell fishing industries will be affected
- Food security will be reduced for millions of people
- Tourism will be reduced due to decaying coral reefs
- Jobs that depend on fishing will be affected
- Ocean water becomes corrosive to the shells & skeletons of marine life
- Cold-water corals will be corroded
- Marine food web stability will be disrupted
- Drastic changes to marine organisms' physical activity, reproduction, morphology, and metabolic state
Ocean literacy is understanding how the oceans influence you, and how you influence the ocean. There are 4 major principles of Ocean Literacy according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):
1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features
All major bodies of water on Earth drain into the ocean, taking with it any nutrients, salts, sediments, and pollutants. The ocean is also finite with limited resources, even though it is very large.
2. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems
The ocean contains many unique creatures, and various examples of life cycles, adaptations, and relationships between these organisms. Examples include symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics, and energy transfer which are unique and some do not occur on land.
3. The ocean and humans are inextricably connected
The ocean provides food, medicine, mineral, and energy sources as well as creating jobs, supporting national economies, serving as transportation for goods and people, and playing a role in national security. Various laws, resource management, and regulation manage what goes in and out of the ocean. Humans pollute and physically modify the ocean and other bodies of water (artificial shorelines, dams, levees, etc.), and as such we are responsible for caring for the ocean. We rely on each other and we should respect that by living in ways that make the other sustainable through individual and collective actions. Managing ocean resources is essential for the survival of both humans and the ocean.
4. The ocean is largely unexplored
Humans know more about the moon than we do the ocean. Less than 5% of the ocean has been explored. As such, this is one of the final frontiers for explorers, scientists, and researchers for generations to come. Curiosity is the cornerstone of human nature and should be used as a motivator to learn about our neighbor. The past 40 years have led to a significant increase in the use of ocean resources, therefore requiring increased knowledge to ensure the sustainability of said resources. New technology is aiding in our capability of researching the ocean, and the cooperative efforts of scientists of all kinds will be fundamental in this exploration.
The Importance of Federal Support
As stated by the fourth step of Ocean Literacy, the ocean is largely unexplored. As such, in order to ensure the sustainability and health of the ocean, research is essential to the future of both us and the ocean. Ocean acidification is causing major issues for both us humans, the ocean, and sea creatures. The only solution is to get federal support in stopping this gradual acidification via funding research, raising awareness about this issue, and enacting federal regulation and laws about how much CO2 can be emitted. Through this, the effects of ocean acidification can be slowed, and eventually stopped. Perhaps even, with further research and new technologies, the damage that has already been caused can be reversed. Until federal support can be acquired, ocean acidification will continue unchecked.
What can be done to fix this?
Hopefully, by now, the major implications that ocean acidification is having on the world are understood and actions can and should be taken to help stop ocean acidification. Governmental support is essential for research and regulating CO2 emissions, so message your local officials pushing for support, and even volunteer to clean up some of the pollutants in the ocean. The only way that ocean acidification can be stopped is with support from all of humanity, so pitch in!
Ocean Acidification. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification>
What Is Ocean Acidification? N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+Acidification%3F>
"Welcome to Ocean Literacy." Ocean Literacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://oceanliteracy.wp2.coexploration.org/>
Ocean Literacy. Port Melbourne: Rigby, 2004. Web.
Laboratories, Scor; Iaea. Marine Environment. Ocean Acidification: A Summary for Policymakers from the Second Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World; 2009 (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
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