Local View: We can help combat ocean acidification

The ocean and land seem worlds apart. Creatures of the sea glide elegantly through cold, dark waters while we only catch a glimpse of this diverse place from shore. However, our activities on land, both individual and industrial, are having a direct impact on organisms in the ocean that may lead to the decline of our fisheries in the very near future.

On land, we burn fossil fuels to produce energy for our cars, homes and factories, producing carbon dioxide. Although we hear about carbon dioxide having an impact on climate change, we neglect to consider that the atmosphere interacts with the ocean over 70 percent of the earth’s surface. Just as oxygen is added to our rivers through the interaction of air and water, so carbon dioxide is added through the same process. Carbonic acid forms when carbon dioxide combines with saltwater. This acid changes the chemical composition of the ocean. These changes degrade aragonite, a substance that is used by many marine animals to form their shells. Increasing levels of acid in the ocean mean thinner shells for these animals and ripple effects on the entire food chain.

Rebecca Martin, The Columbian, 20 March 2011. Full article.

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