Ocean Acidification Impacts due to Carbon Emissions more Severe than Thought

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Written By: Emma Websdale

Impacts from global warming, overfishing and increased levels of carbon dioxide emissions are degrading the health of the world’s oceans at a faster rate than previously thought, a report warns.
3092922785Results from the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) have warned that our oceans are more acidic now than they have been for at least 300 million years, with consequences much larger than previously estimated.

According to the report, unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions released from burning fossil fuels are being absorbed by the ocean, slowly turning it more acidic and less alkaline, resulting in great deterioration. Marine scientists warn that this factor, coupled with pollution and overfishing are severely damaging the state of the ocean, threatening a mass extinction of key species.

Increased acidity poses particular threat to species such as coral, as it dissolves the calcium carbonate skeletons that form the structure of reefs and shells.  The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported the young larvae of oyster fisheries across West coast areas of the US are failing to develop correctly, where acidification has been the highest.

Marine scientists from the IPSO report have warned that even if aggressive reductions in emissions are made, due to time lags between the release of carbon emissions and its effects on oceans, further acidification and warming of the oceans are unavoidable.

With billions of people depending on the ocean for nutrition and livelihood, the report calls for world governments to curb CO2 emissions at 450 parts per million (ppm), and to ensure that fishing in the high oceans are monitored by a new enforcement agency.

Trevor Manuel, a South African government minister and co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission said, “Unless we restore the ocean’s health, we will experience the consequences on prosperity, wellbeing and development. Governments must respond as urgently as they do to national security threats – in the long run, the impacts are just as important.”

Also stressing the need to tackle carbon dioxide emissions to preserve the future of our environment is the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warning that at least a third of human induced carbon emissions has been absorbed by our oceans.

What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses”, said Professor Dan Laffoley, one of the authors of the IPSO report.

“The UN climate report confirmed that the ocean is bearing the brunt of human-induced changes to our planet. These findings give us more cause for alarm – but also a roadmap for action. We must use it.”

For information on how Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE) and their 300+ individual investors are working to conserve our oceans by reducing greenhouse emissions please visit our “Answers” page.