Marine invertebrates, acid oceans can’t be forgotten in Copenhagen

Climate change authorities and researchers around the globe are gearing up for the the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

As a precursor though, UN talks in Bonn, Germany have begun this month as treaty draft negotiators meet to discuss environmental issues. One appeal came from the Interacedemy Panel (IAP), a conglomerate of 70 different scientific academies, which issued a statement asking delegates to make ocean acidification a main topic of debate.

When carbon dioxide from the air is dissolved into the ocean, it reacts with sea water to form carbonic acid. This acid releases hydrogen ions that consume the calcium carbonate used by marine mollusks and corals to make their shells and skeletons. The ions not only dissolve exhisiting structures made by these creatures but keep them from producing new ones.

These tiny animals make up the platform of ocean ecosystems, providing habitat and food for thousands of other ocean organisms, including plants, fish, reptiles, and mammals. The loss of this platform has serious implications for human food production also. A 2007 NOAA report estimated the US alone consumed 5 billion tons of seafood that year, with an average of 16 pounds per person per year since 2003, and the US is one of the smallest consumers of seafood in the world.

Caroline Griesel,, 1 June 2009. Full article.

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