Tranquility. Such is a word that sounds synonymous with a soothing oceanic breeze and the cool feel of light, salty ocean waves. However, what if I told you the oceans are getting more acidic. Would the ocean still feel tranquil to you? The acidification is because of humans. Every day, ocean acidification, a problem facing the entirety of the world, is gradually spreading across our planet. The oceans have reached such a heightened level of acidity, that unless we take action it will end in disaster to both our seas, its ecosystem and ourselves. Today let's surf around and examine what is ocean acidification, what causes it, how it is a danger to modern society, and what we can do to halt it.
First of all, ocean acidification is exactly what it sounds like: acidifying the ocean. But how exactly does this happen? Well, there are two main causes of ocean acidification. First is the same as that of the more well-known problem of climate change. Climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, but according to Science Daily, the ocean soaks up nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide in the air, acidifying the ocean, which is why these two problems are connected. Because of the revolution in technology, we became more dependent on burning fossil fuels, releasing more carbon dioxide into the air. Some examples of this are powering homes, running factories, and driving cars. Natural disasters like forest fires, volcano eruptions, and more also cause carbon emissions, but the Earth’s other natural effects have canceled them out before. The real and most recent problem is us burning fossil fuels and using non renewable energy sources.
Did you know, plants aren’t the organisms that provide us with more than 50% of our oxygen? Plankton, a single celled organism, does that for us. Which leads us to the second cause of acidification, overfishing. Overfishing can disrupt the balance of the marine ecosystem by reducing large predatory fish and subsequently causing an increase in the population of smaller fish that heavily depend on plankton as their primary food source. As you can see, the cause of the depletion of these organisms is actually us fishing too much. The mix of a lack of organisms to help solve the problem and overwhelming amounts of carbon emissions result in carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean and triggering ocean acidification. Although Ocean acidification helps fight against climate change, in life there is always cost when there is benefit. According to Now This News, during the ocean acidification, fewer carbonate ions are available to calcifier species weakening and deforming their shells. Critters such as clams, mussels, shellfish, and even coral are affected by this. The results of this deprivation are more vulnerable and slow growth, creating a shortage for creatures who consume such critters, therefore resulting in a famine among their predators, and its effect shaking biodiversity within the ocean. Moreover, it’s a blinding blow to humanity’s consumption of sea creatures, heavily downgrading multiple seafood industries and losing jobs. Experts note with concern that if mankind continues along its current trajectory, the consequences for our oceans could be dire: the ocean will be 150% more acidic by the end of the century.
However, there is still hope for us in this situation to solve ocean acidification. Since the main driver of ocean acidification is just an overhaul of carbon emissions, to counteract this, we can utilize an increased number of renewable energy sources such as but not limited to solar energy, water, and wind. In addition, we should switch to a more circular economic model, prioritizing the use of recycled materials over new ones and promoting sharing of goods or services instead of traditional purchasing. Together, we can also reduce our carbon emissions by just making the shift from an unsustainable society to one that doesn’t harm our planet.
Today we talked about what ocean acidification is and its trigger, how this is damaging us and possible solutions to it. I hope that this information can help our oceans and marine life stay tranquil for many generations to come.