Eating away our food: ocean acidification is impacting Southeast Asia’s fisheries

Ocean acidification, the “evil twin” of global warming, presents a stern challenge to food security, particularly for Southeast Asians.

Sweltering heat waves have blanketed Southeast Asia and other regions recently. One contributing factor has been record-breaking ocean temperatures. Oceans have thus far absorbed the brunt of global warming- trapping 93 per cent of excess heat in the biosphere. Ocean warming, along with overfishing, has already caused fish stock depletion by between 15 and 35 per cent over the past eight decades even as global populations grew from 2 to 8 billion.

Unfortunately, record ocean temperatures are not the only issue of concern. Ocean acidification, sometimes called the “evil twin” of climate warming, is another result of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Ocean acidification refers to the drop in pH levels in seawater, which were on average 8.2 in the pre-industrial era. Since then, it has declined by 0.1 units. While this appears minute, because the pH scale is logarithmic, this actually represents a 30 per cent increase in acidity. Mid-range projections for 2100 is that ocean pH could decline by 0.3 to 0.4 units. This would be devastating for ocean biodiversity. As a comparison, a drop in blood pH in humans by 0.2-0.3 units could cause seizures, comas and even death.

Elyssa Kaur Ludher, Eco Business, 12 June 2023. Article.

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