Ocean acidification: dealing with uncharted waters

There are ancient air bubbles trapped in ice that have allowed NASA to observe what Earth’s atmosphere was like in the past 400,000 years. Through research, NASA discovered the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have ever been. Since the industrial revolution, it is no secret humans have contributed immensely to the significant increase of CO2. In fact, the Earth’s oceans absorb an astonishing amount of CO2 emissions. Today, the Earth’s oceans absorb twenty-two million tons of CO2 every day. To make things more troublesome, researchers are predicting CO2 levels will continue to rise in the coming years, resulting in unprecedented effects to Earth. When the Earth’s ocean absorbs an increase of CO2, there is a corresponding increase in the acidity levels of the ocean’s chemical makeup. The astoundingly high levels of CO2 have resulted in Earth’s oceans becoming thirty percent more acidic than in recorded history. This underappreciated issue is called ocean acidification, and its effects create profound consequences. Ocean acidification is threatening the ocean’s chemical makeup, ecosystems, marine organisms, and biodiversity. “Absent immediate action, ‘irreversible, catastrophic changes to marine ecosystems’ are anticipated to occur[,]” even endangering human life. Although these facts are troubling, humans have the resources and ability to mitigate our ocean’s chemical makeup and change its terrifying future.

Smith K. N., 2019. Ocean acidification: dealing with uncharted waters. The Villanova Environmental Law Journal 30(1): 7. Article.

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