Our Acidic Oceans

In a 2014 U.N. report, a reduction of the PH levels in our oceans, known as ocean acidification will cost the world economy over $1 trillion every year by 2100.  This change in the ocean’s composition will affect many commercial industries relying on the ocean’s ecosystem.

The burning of fossil fuels and other air pollutants, cause a high concentration of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.  Ocean acidification is caused by the excess absorption of CO2 or Carbon dioxide by the ocean.  This causes chemical reactions in the water, resulting in more acidic oceans and seas.  This in turn decreases the content of carbonate ions in the water.

Carbonate ions are a building block of calcifying organisms such as sea shells and coral, as well as shelled organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins and plankton.  Acid water can break up the composition of the shells.   Shelled organisms such as Zooplankton or Pterpods are a very important food source for many fish.

This situation affects fishing industries worldwide, with immediate impact to species that grow a shell.  In the US Pacific Northwest, for example, oyster hatcheries have a much higher than normal larval mortality.  When water is more acidic, it takes more energy for these organisms to build a shell; energy that could have gone towards getting food or reproduction.

Businesses that depend on the ocean for survival are wise to monitor the situation in their area closely by accurate bookkeeping records.  By comparing yearly income they can determine firsthand how the ocean’s increased acidity is affecting their bottom line and at what rate.  With this knowledge, brings a move to a solution.