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Acidic oceans

CARBON dioxide (CO2) emissions must fall sharply to avoid inflicting acid damage to the world’s marine ecosystems, warn 150 scientists in a declaration released in the southern French city of Nice.

They say acidification of ocean waters caused by greenhouse gases is already changing ocean chemistry, wreaking havoc on coral ecosystems which will eventually have a huge impact on human communities. In a chain of consequences, it will affect marine organisms, food webs and lead to substantial changes in commercial fish stocks, threatening protein supply and food security for millions of people.

Since industrialisation began in the 18th century, atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen by nearly 40%, thanks mainly to unbridled burning of coal, gas and oil. Much of this CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, rendering it more acidic. This process makes it harder for numerous marine organisms to build the calcium-based shells and skeletal structures on which they depend for survival.

the star online, 3 March 2009. Full article.

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