Copenhagen climate conference: ocean acidification could leave one billion hungry

More than one billion people could suffer food shortages because of ocean acidification unless climate change is tackled, Hilary Benn has warned

As the world struggles to reach an agreement on global warming, the UK Environment Secretary said pollution is having a particularly damaging effect on the two thirds of the world covered by oceans.

He explained that carbon dioxide is being absorbed at a faster rate than at any time in the previous 21 million years, causing ocean acidification.

The process dissolves the shells and skeletons of key marine life and is in danger of destroying whole ecosystems.

“Why should we worry about this?” he asked “Because there is marine life that is affected by that change. In particular animals and plants that have a calcium carbonate skeleton and that other marine life feed on. When you think that one billion people depend on fish as their principle source of protein this is something we should worry about.”

Mr Benn’s comments follow a UN report that warned ocean acidification is an “underwater time bomb”, which cannot be reversed in less than tens of thousands of years. It is predicted 70 per cent of cold water corals could be exposed to corrosive water by 2100.

Louise Gray,, 14 December 2009. Article.

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