Acid test for local action

Whether you prefer the term “ocean acidification” or the less compelling but more accurate “ocean de-alkalisation”, there’s little doubt that the addition of carbon dioxide to the seas threatens to change them fundamentally over the course of the century.

Ocean acidification 101 says that the oceans absorb some of the extra CO2 going into the atmosphere.

That slowly makes seawater less alkali – or more acid, as you prefer – with major and potentially catastrophic impacts on sea life.

The science is well documented, so I won’t go over that ground again except to raise an alert to look out for an interesting study coming out in the next few days.

If global ocean acidification from global CO2 emissions is the issue, you might think that the solution would necessarily be global as well.

That’s certainly the way it’s mainly been talked about – and in the long run, curbing carbon emissions probably is the only way to protect the coral and other shell-forming creatures that depend on seawater maintaining a constant average pH around 8.2.

But in an article in the journal Science this week, a group of US-based scientists and lawyers is making a different argument: local initiatives can be effective too, they say.

Richard Black, BBC, 27 May 2011. Full article.


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