Acidification threatens ocean life, study says
By Alister Doyle REUTERS
WARSAW, Poland — Global warming is causing a “silent storm” in the oceans by acidifying waters at a record rate, threatening marine life from coral reefs to fish stocks, an international study shows.
- The report by 540 experts in 37 nations said the seas could become 170 percent more acidic by 2100 compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, can become a mild acid when mixed with water.
Acidification is combining with a warming of ocean waters, also caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and other man-made factors such as higher pollution and overfishing, the report said.
“It is like the silent storm — you can’t hear it, you can’t feel it,” Carol Turley, a senior scientist at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in England, told Reuters.
The study, released in November (2013) on the sideline of a meeting of almost 200 nations in Warsaw on ways to slow global warming, estimated that acidity of the oceans has increased by 26 percent since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- A 170 percent increase in acidity is equivalent to cutting the ocean’s pH level, a scale of acidity and alkalinity, to 7.9 from 8.2 on a logarithmic scale. Battery acid rates about 1, and soap, an alkaline, is about 10.
- The pace of acidification was the fastest in at least 55 million years, the scientists said. Acidification undermines the ability of everything from corals to crabs to build protective shells and has effects on the food web.
“Marine ecosystems and biodiversity are likely to change as a result of ocean acidification, with far-reaching consequences for society,” according to the summary led by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.
“Economic losses from declines in shellfish aquaculture and the degradation of tropical coral reefs may be substantial, owing to the sensitivity of mollusks and corals to ocean acidification,” it said.
And some studies have found that young clown fish, made famous by the movie Finding Nemo, behaved as if drunk in more acidic waters, their brains apparently disoriented.
Another study found that rockfish can become more anxious.
“A normal fish will swim equally in light and dark areas in a tank … an anxious one on high carbon dioxide spends more time in the darker side, the more-protected side,” said Lauren Linsmayer of the University of California-San Diego.
- “If society continues on the current high-emissions trajectory, cold-water coral reefs, located in the deep sea, may be unsustainable, and tropical-coral-reef erosion is likely to outpace reef building this century,” the report said.
- Deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, from power plants, factories and cars, would limit acidification.
The Warsaw talks are working on plans for a global deal, due to be agreed to in 2015, to limit climate change.
There are many compassionate thinkers “out there,” learned scientists, well-trained specialists — all shouting from the roof-tops, mountain-tops and other pinnacles with one intention; to save our planet and in turn — humanity. These are ‘those who know’ what many of us only suspect or are gradually coming to understand. But this is not just their responsibility, it belongs to all inhabitants of earth for it is our only home. They are doing the calling, but most of us are refusing to listen (to our detriment). This must change if we are to survive.
We must stop amassing toxic waste for we have nowhere to put it. It is foolishness for our industrialists to dump toxins into our oceans. Nature / earth has not devised all this destruction and thrust it on us — we have developed it on our own. This is game-changing time folks; we must rethink the rules and better understand the path we are on and where it is taking us for it isn’t a destination we are going to be able to live with. Jan)