It doesn’t take more than a glance
at the news to notice an article related to climate change. I think that most
people in the United States are aware of climate change, but many choose to
blow it off as something of little importance. One of the areas where climate
change is most impactful is in our oceans. Entire ecosystems of our oceans are
changed when molecules like carbon dioxide are added into the mix. Carbon dioxide
is a killer in the world’s oceans. Not only does this molecule acidify the
ocean, but it also has direct consequences on many types of coral and sea plant
life. Acidification of planet earth’s seas affects all living organisms under
water. I think it is time to address some of the issues that climate change and
ocean acidification bring to earth’s healthy oceans and discuss possible ways
to cut carbon emissions.          

Acidification and warming oceans
are problematic. Dana Ehlert (2017) says “Recent literature has shown an
approximately linear relationship between global warming and cumulative CO2
emissions.” (Ehlert, 2017) Humans have been adding carbon dioxide to the
atmosphere largely through burning fossil fuels. Waters states that “Most of
this CO2 collects in the atmosphere and, because it absorbs heat from the sun,
creates a blanket around the planet, warming its temperature. But some 30
percent of this CO2 dissolves into seawater.” (Waters, 2016) If we do not work
to stop carbon emissions, oceans will continue to lower in pH and many marine
creatures will be affected.

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These increasing greenhouse gases
are acidifying the ocean. Ocean Acidification is caused by extra carbon dioxide
being taken in from outside sources, which leads to lower pH. The Oceans water
is rather basic (over the pH of 7) and ocean acidification is moving the
water’s pH towards a neutral pH, off balancing the oceans natural way of life. Acidified
oceans directly and negatively affect many animals in the seas. Some underwater
creatures, most often ones who build their homes, will make skeletons out of
the carbon component calcium carbonate (CaCO3). This molecule bonds with
hydrogen ions. Waters Found that “To make calcium carbonate, shell-building
marine animals such as corals and oysters combine a calcium ion (Ca+2) with
carbonate (CO3-2) from surrounding seawater, releasing carbon dioxide and water
in the process” (Waters 2016). When carbon dioxide dissolves in ocean water it
combines with many calcium ions and makes it difficult for marine life to find
calcium carbonate. This causes the marine life to live on a calcium free diet.
Humans can’t live without calcium and neither can many marine species. Because of
the lack of calcium, worn-down skeletons are common in acidified waters. This is
some of the chemistry of ocean acidification. I think it is important to show the
chemical reactions that destroy marine life.                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

          Sadly,
individual species are not the most problematic change when adding carbon
dioxide to the ocean. Entire ecosystems that have been thriving for years can
be obliterated due to the rising carbon dioxide levels. Andrew (2016) noticed
that reef habitats are extremely vulnerable to carbon dioxide. Coral reefs, but
also temperate reefs built by mollusks such as oysters and mussels, are
affected (Andrew, 2016). Many shallow waters used to be plentiful with marine plants
and full of reefs, but there are few natural reefs remaining. Deep cold-water
reefs are greatly affected by CO2 emissions. These reefs grow slowly over many
years and are sensitive to any human impacts. Many chemical reactions,
including those that are essential for life, are sensitive to small changes in
pH. Waters states that “In humans, for example, normal blood pH ranges between
7.35 and 7.45. A drop in blood pH of 0.2-0.3 can cause seizures, comas, and
even death. Similarly, a small change in the pH of seawater can have harmful
effects on marine life, impacting chemical communication, reproduction, and
growth” (Waters 2016). Changing pH levels of the ocean can stunt these coral
species growths. It is possible that Acidification could stop coral growth and
destroying coral skeletons, while also halting the progression of any new coral
skeletons. Reefs that come from this problem will be weaker and won’t take much
to erode. This erosion can come from animals and waves. If we do not act soon,
it is likely that healthy coral reefs will be destroyed from this process. When
coral reefs are damaged it brings problems to all marine life in the ecosystem.
Many animals are directly affected by coral change, specifically animals that
would lose either their home, food source, or protection. Those animals that
could lose essential needs from coral, can die off, causing more harmful
effects for animals in the food chain. This process can become circular, which
is why something must be done to prevent more ocean acidification.

Waters saw that In 2013, carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million (ppm) He thinks “The
most realistic and effective way to lower this number, or at least keep it from
getting any higher, would be to reduce carbon emissions by burning less fossil
fuels and re-growing mangroves, seagrass beds, and marshes, known as blue
carbon. If we did, over hundreds of thousands of years, carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere and ocean would stabilize again” (Waters 2016). There are numerous
activities that people can engage in, that would help to curtail or stop ocean
acidification. Even if you live hundreds of miles away from an ocean there are
still a multitude of changes in your home and daily life that will help prevent
C02 emissions. The most beneficial way to lower these carbon emissions is to
try to reduce how much carbon dioxide you use every day. You can decrease your
carbon footprint by recycling, turning off lights, not adding extra fossil
fuels through poor transportation, walk when you can, using public
transportation and supporting cleaner energies such as solar and wind. These
can help exponentially, but to have the greatest impact in cutting carbon
emissions, simply tell your friends and family about ocean acidification. Scientists
noticed this problem recently, so many people still don’t know about ocean
acidification and what it causes. Increasing awareness of the problem through
education is the best way to address this issue and move towards saving our
amazing oceans, which provide beauty, income, recreation and food to literally
billions of people around the world.

The reality of ocean acidification
is moving towards epidemic proportion. 
Sometimes the best way to fight an epidemic is to bring the problem into
the light of day. I think that ocean acidification is one of these extremely
important epidemic issues that needs to be brought into the light.