Ocean acidification is often referred to as the ‘dark side of global warming’ or the ‘nasty little brother of climate change’. It is causing huge problems for sensitive marine ecosystems throughout the world’s oceans, and is one of the biggest threats to the continued existence of coral reefs.
A brief recap of ocean acidification and its causes
Basically, ocean acidification is caused by human pollution. It is one of the less well known problems associated with global warming. The oceans absorb a huge percentage of humanities carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This CO2 reacts with seawater to create carbonic acid – a process which reduces the concentration of the carbonate ion and increases the acidity of the water .
Unfortunately, this reduces the ability of corals and shellfish to build their skeletons and shells respectively, as they rely on carbonate ions. The problems caused by ocean acidification are especially evident in the colder waters of the Arctic and Northern Pacific, where the effect on shellfish is already becoming obvious .
There is no quick solution to ocean acidification. Nor will we stop the process and reduce its effects until we can bring our carbon emissions under control and stop polluting the earth. However, it is important that we do whatever small things we can to prevent ocean acidification
Ways to prevent ocean acidification
Although we can not stop the process, there are a number of preventative strategies which we can implement to reduce the effect of ocean acidification. Most of these center around reducing carbon emissions and stopping climate change.
- Reduce the carbon footprint of your personal life
Save electricity and water wherever you can within your home. You can do this by fixing leaky taps or pipes, installing a solar hot-water system, turning off appliances and lights when they aren’t in use, and using energy efficient appliances and light-bulbs .
Use less plastic, buy less material objects, and reduce, recycle, and reuse things in your everyday life.
- Adopt more environmentally friendly power generation methods
Emissions can be filtered more efficiently to reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. Eventually, all fossil fuel fired power plants should be closed, and other fossil fuel uses – like in cars, boats, and other motors – should be reduced as much as possible .
- Educate, educate, educate
However, since they don’t know, and have never learnt, they don’t care. You can begin with talking to your friends and family, joining a local ocean conservation agency, or simply talking to strangers over the internet to raise awareness about this hidden issue.
- Pressure the government
Send emails or letters, join protests, and rally for the ocean to let the government know you care!
- Make smart life choices