Leading scientists at UN forum call for action to halt rising acidity in world’s oceans

Greenhouse gases are putting the world’s oceans at risk of becoming too acidic to support coral reefs and marine life, warned over 150 scientists who today called on governments to take immediate action to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions in a declaration drafted as a result of a United Nations conference.

The leading marine scientists noted in the Monaco Declaration on Ocean Acidification that levels of acidity were accelerating and that its negative socio-economic impacts can only be limited by cutting back on the amounts of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere.

Prince Albert II of Monaco urged political leaders today to take notice of the Declaration – drafted by scientists from 26 different countries – ahead of negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen at the end of the year.

“The chemistry is so fundamental and changes so rapid and severe that impacts on organisms appear unavoidable,” said James Orr of the UN Marine Environment Laboratories (IAEA-MEL), a Monaco-based subsidiary of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Declaration is based on a report outlining the most important areas of research related to oceanic pollution, which was developed by participants attending a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) symposium last year called “The Ocean in a High-CO2 World.”

“The report from the symposium summarizes the state of the science and priorities for future research, while the Monaco Declaration implores political leaders to launch urgent actions to limit the source of the problem,” said Mr. Orr, who chaired the symposium.

“The questions are now how bad will it be and how soon will it happen,” he added.

UN News Centre, 30 January 2009. Article.

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