Life in an Acidic Ocean
by breanne on October 7, 2016 - 7:53pm
Is it really that surprising to say that ocean acidification is another one of climate change’s despicable offspring? It seems that every major environmental issue in the news stems as a result of increasing carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, and what exactly do we plan to do about it? We forget about the problem, keep burning fossil fuels at unsustainable rates and continue to live comfortable lifestyles because we have yet to experience the consequences on a personal level. Unfortunately, if you are a marine species off the coast of Atlantic Canada, you can’t say the same.
Adrienne South, a columnist for Global News, reports on the impact of ocean acidification for marine life in Atlantic Canada. The key message being that the ever-increasing acidity of the world’s oceans is a product of anthropogenic carbon emissions. She mentions in the article that scientists have confirmed a negative correlation between the oceanic absorption of carbon dioxide and the health of marine life (South, 2016). Ocean acidification is accelerated as humans emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment from driving a car to burning fossil fuels to extract more fossil fuels. Fisheries and Oceans Canada research scientist, Dr. Azetsu-Scott, mentions that about one quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the oceans each year, critically altering pH levels (South, 2016). South (2016) notes how this is undesirably affecting marine life, more specifically shell fish species such as oysters, mussels, crabs, and scallops who have difficulty developing their carbonate shells when the availability of carbonate ions decreases – one of the many direct impacts of an acidic environment. This article brings to light the importance of taking action now to reduce carbon emissions and in turn reduce the process of ocean acidification. All in an attempt to preserve marine life for both environmental and socio-economic reasons.
Ocean acidification has been developing alongside climate change due to anthropogenic carbon emissions for centuries. As excess amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere, the ocean (which is a natural sink for carbon) begins to accumulate more carbon dioxide through the chemical reactions between the atmosphere and seawater. As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere remain high, the acidity will continue to increase and harm marine life. The severity of this issue is only now beginning to gain momentum as more scientists like Dr. Azetsu-Scott take interest in and research the effects on the highly diverse ecosystems involved.
As this environmental issue begins gaining in complexity, there will be a serious need for states to implement resource management strategies for fish species and marine life that will be at risk as a result of their changing environment. It would be highly beneficial for Canada’s federal and provincial governments to initiate a movement to prevent future crisis. For this to be effective, many of the world’s leaders must similarly initiate effective resource management strategies. For the present, this could simply be the application of informational instruments, such as annual reporting of ocean acidity, or public outreach and education instruments to ensure citizens of the world can make informed decisions regarding both industry and individual influences on the oceans. Without the help of humans to reverse their impacts on ocean environments, marine shell fish species have a difficult future to adapt to, with additional fish species not far behind.
South, A. (2016, May 30). Scientists say carbon emissions could harm marine life in Atlantic Canada. Retrieved October 07, 2016 from http://globalnews.ca/news/2730307/scientists-say-carbon-emissions-could-harm-marine-life-in-atlantic-canada/.