Climate change’s “evil twin” – the world’s oceans increasing acidity is unknown

Only a fifth of people have heard of climate change’s “evil twin” – the increasing acidity of the world’s oceans, a poll has revealed.

The oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide which has been emitted by human activities such as burning fossil fuels.

The carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, making it more acidic, which poses threats to marine wildlife such as coral reefs and the coastal communities that depend on them.

Despite the potential threat to the world’s oceans, the research published by Cardiff University found that only 20% of more than 2,500 people quizzed had heard of ocean acidification.

Even most people who have heard of ocean acidification did not know much about it, the survey by Ipsos Mori revealed, with just 3% of those questioned claiming to know “a fair amount” or “a great deal” about the problem.

Though most people were not initially concerned about the issue, when they were given some basic information about it, almost two-thirds (64%) expressed concern, the researchers said.

Despite the lack of knowledge on the subject, almost two-fifths of those polled (38%) correctly put ocean acidification down to carbon emissions from human activity, although almost as many (34%) thought it was mainly caused by pollution from shipping.

Professor Nick Pidgeon, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology said: “Ocean acidification is a hidden impact of carbon emissions – often described as the ’evil twin’ of climate change.

“While the scientific evidence increasingly shows it will be of critical importance for the future health of marine life, public awareness remains stubbornly low.

“It is nevertheless encouraging to see that when it is properly explained to them, many who took part in the research became concerned about the issue.

“The results point to a clear need to further engage the public in more innovative ways, by changing the narrative about climate change to further emphasise this most important of environmental risk issues.”

The survey was funded by the Government’s UK Ocean Acidification Programme.

Western Daily Press, 13 November 2014. Article.

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