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Scientists are becoming increasingly worried about ocean acidification, a direct result of the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.
On 30 June 2005, the Royal Society of London published a Report on why this is important:
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean, and makes it acid. This is inevitable with high carbon dioxide, no fancy models are involved. The oceans are already 30% more acid that before fossil fuel burning started. Acidification will (can) kill corals, and probably make many other species (like squid) extinct.
The overall effects are unknown - there has been no period like this in the last 2 Million years The UK Royal Society has commented that "the effects of ocean acidifcation have potentially catastrophic consequences for marine life" .
There is an equilibrium between atmospheric CO2 and the CO2 dissolved in seawater: as atmospheric levels increase, so do the levels of CO2 dissolved in the ocean waters, especially in the surface waters where most ocean life flourishes. The dissolved CO2 reacts with the seawater to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), increasing the water acidify (i.e. reducing pH). The exact results of this are unknown, but are potentially disasterous as common marine organisms, such as the fishes we use as food, may be unable to survive.
It is important to note that the issue of seawater acidification is not related to global warming - there is no dispute about the reality of ocean acidification, only about the consequences.
Ocean acidification potentially represents a gigantic problem for the world. Many of the marine species we rely on to eat could well disappear. In cartoon terms, you could say people should prepare to change their tastes, and switch from cod and chips, to jellyfish and chips. (The Independent)
Ocean acidifcation could change the ocean ecosystems, driving our marine food species to extinction. It is essential to reduce atmospheric CO2, even if you do not believe in climate change !
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