Copenhagen climate change summit: Ocean acidification will threaten our food supply, UK environment secretary to warn

Humanity’s food supply will be threatened by the acidification of our oceans unless climate change is tackled, Hilary Benn is to warn as the UN climate summit today.

The UK environment secretary will say acidification provides a ‘powerful incentive’ to cut carbon emissions.

The comments follow a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which has warned acidification will cause the mass extinction of marine species unless immediate action is taken.

Many scientists believe the impact of rising CO2 levels on our oceans is as big as global warming.

‘Ocean acidification can be best described as the evil twin of climate change,’ said Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair at IUCN.

The ocean provides about half of the Earth’s natural resources, absorbs 25 per cent of all the carbon dioxide we emit each year, and produces half the oxygen we breathe.

Ocean acidity has increased by 30 per cent since industrialization began 250 years ago.

As a result, the pH of seawater has fallen by about 0.1, and a further change of 0.3-0.4 is expected by the end of the century.

This would be greater than anything experienced in the past 21 million years. Some forecasts predict 70 per cent of cold water corals could be exposed to corrosive water by 2100. Shell fish would also be affected.

The mass extinction of plants and animals on the ocean floor would lead to a massive fall in fish stocks., 14 December 2009. Article.

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