The effects of climate change seem to know no bounds: new research shows carbon emissions have dramatically increased the acidity of our oceans to the point where our entire food web is at risk of collapsing. In a recent report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), scientists said the ocean’s acidity level has gone up 26 percent in the past 200 years, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. According to Phys.org, that increase in acidity directly mirrors the proportion of carbon dioxide oceans have been absorbing ever since humans started burning massive amounts of fossil fuels for energy.
According to the report prepared by a group of 30 expert scientists, the rising acidity levels in our oceans will have serious consequences for shellfish, coral and other calcium-making organisms considered important parts of the food chain. “It is now nearly inevitable that within 50 to 100 years, continued anthropogenic (man-made) carbon emissions will further increase ocean acidity to levels that will have widespread impacts . . . on marine organisms and ecosystems and the goods and services they provide,” the scientists said. They also noted that acidification may have already affected shellfish farms in the northwestern United States.
The 100-plus-page document the scientists gave to the UN is based on reviews of hundreds of published studies positing the increasing acidity of oceans and the detrimental and long-term consequences of those increases. “Recovery from a major decrease in ocean pH (rise in acidity) takes many thousands of years,” the scientists noted.