Murnan: changes in practice, policy will slow ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is an under-represented topic in the current environmental dialogue. Many folks, myself included until coming to college, are unaware of ocean acidification’s causes and controversies.

At first consideration, ocean acidification sounds like an issue for science fiction; something that causes flesh to melt and emits a green hazardous glow. The effects of acidification are subtler than a typical movie plot, but just as dangerous. Because knowledge is power, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of ocean acidification and what it means for you, universities, economies and the world.

Swimming right along, let’s break down the process of ocean acidification. As global carbon emissions have risen, so has the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean. The world’s oceans now absorb about 25 percent of total human CO2 emissions. When CO2 reacts with seawater, carbonic acid is formed. Carbonic acid impedes the growth of calcium carbonate in many marine animals such as coral, oysters, clams, sea urchins, shrimp, lobsters and planktonic organisms—in other words, the bottom of the food chain. When the bottom of the food chain is altered, all the species above it are negatively impacted.

Let’s jump into the effect ocean acidification will have on people like you and me. Many of us enjoy seafood such as oysters, shrimp and lobsters. If the number of these animals decline, then our checkbooks will feel it. No more casual sushi night for you.

The effect on universities will be less frivolous and more detrimental. Oceans are considered the last unexplored frontier on our planet. Many universities pour money, resources and time into research of the world’s oceans. If acidification continues at its current rate, universities and private researchers could lose the animals they are currently studying or the opportunity to discover a new species. Ocean acidity has increased 25 percent in the last two centuries; our ability to gain knowledge from our oceans’ depths is rapidly disappearing.

Finally, ocean acidification will make a major splash on the global stage. Many coastal economies in the United States and around the world rely on fishing. Changes in oceanic ecosystems pose a great threat to commercial fishing industries, including the United States’ $70 billion fishing empire, which currently provides 1 million jobs. Worldwide, the commercial fishing industry represents a $218 billion business and sustains 4.3 billion people with 30 percent of its animal protein intake. Because many global communities rely on marine life in their daily diet, increased ocean acidification will threaten food security around the world.

Ocean acidification is a growing danger for many stakeholders in our global society, but it’s important not to jump ship quite yet. This issue needs attention and ample consideration from citizens, scholars and governments. In order to slow acidification, we must reduce carbon emissions through policy and practice. Luckily, the environment is a growing political topic as climate change and ocean acidification become economic threats rather than prophesized catastrophes. As for people like you and me, we must continue the dialogue on ocean acidification and take action to lessen our own carbon footprint. The answer to ocean acidification lays with our collective action for a better, cleaner world.

Gabrielle Murnan, The University Daily Kansan, 3 February 2014. Article.

Ocean acidification is an under-represented topic in the current environmental dialogue. Many folks, myself included until coming to college, are unaware of ocean acidification’s causes and controversies.

At first consideration, ocean acidification sounds like an issue for science fiction; something that causes flesh to melt and emits a green hazardous glow. The effects of acidification are subtler than a typical movie plot, but just as dangerous. Because knowledge is power, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of ocean acidification and what it means for you, universities, economies and the world.

– See more at: http://kansan.com/opinion/2014/02/03/murnan-changes-in-practice-policy-will-slow-ocean-acidification/#sthash.UqfkRQYO.dpuf


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