Our Ocean is Choking on Carbon!

Almost everything we consume on this planet ends up in the ocean; from the food we eat, to the manufactured products we consume, to the energy we produce. Our use of fossil fuels, our dependence on fertilizers, our demand for more and more land, contribute one way or another to one of the greatest threats facing our ocean today, acidification. We monitor acidification by testing the ocean’s pH scale; a measure of 0 to 14, indicating the alkaline or acidic composition of a solution. Pure water has a pH of 7, battery acid, a pH of 0.8. The ocean averages between 7.9 and 8.2pH.

Until recently, the ocean has managed to maintain a balance between the amount of carbon it absorbs and the amount of oxygen it produces. Now our actions, especially our reliance on fossil fuels, have upset this crucial equilibrium. We are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, at a rate of 28 million metric tons per year. This excess carbon interacts with other ions in the water to produce carbonic acid. The more acidic the water, the less ability it has to absorb CO2. Scientists fear the ocean could reach a saturation point. Increased acidity also results in fish starved for oxygen, corals and other marine species deprived of the calcium necessary to grow and spawn, and a proliferation of dead zones.

Acidification is controllable! You can help put a stop to it. Make your pledge now!

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  • tcorthout
    Posted 2011/12/26
    at 12:22 PM ET

    correction on my post of 12:16
    reducing phyto live between 10 and 20% means a reduction of 90 to 80% of the phytomass, in other words leaving 10 to 20% alive.

  • tcorthout
    Posted 2011/12/26
    at 12:18 PM ET

    If you wonder how this works out for zooplankton than this experiment gives a good impression:
    In a pot on the long run 50% of zooplankton: dies if the pH drops 0.6 ... again the sea is not a pot and animals presumable migrate to deeper (safer) water.
    Remember we count with a pH drop of 0.4 from 8.2 to 7.8 by 2100 in other words future does not look too good for zooplankton.

  • tcorthout
    Posted 2011/12/26
    at 12:16 PM ET

    From the standpoint of living organisms, the euphotic zone (good light) – the upper 600m of the ocean – is probably the most important of all oceanic zones. This zone is 600m. By some estimates, about two-thirds of all the photosynthetic activity that occurs on Earth (on land and in the water) takes place within the euphotic zone. Deeper only about 1 percent of sunlight penetrates. At 900m it is perpetual night.
    I estimate 100ppm CO2 more can acidify to a dept of 100m … plants and animals can migrate to deeper (safe zones).
    I estimate 800ppm CO2 more can acidify to a dept of 800m … or covering the complete euphotic zone reducing phyto live between 10 and 20% of normal.
    We stabilise at 450ppm CO2 more by 2100 therefore enough to penetrate to 450m in the ocean… we have a safe layer left of 250m for migration of plankton … problems will be noticed first in shallow seas (such as north sea, south chinese sea, java sea, afura sea, arctic sea and not in deeper oceans which is most of the ocean (average sea dept is 3000m).

  • starfish
    Posted 2010/04/05
    at 07:05 AM ET

    I am so saddened by the state of our oceans. As a mother, I will educate my children, As a teacher, I will educate my students, As an individual I will continue to educate myself and do all that I can to protect the precious lives in our oceans.

  • April  Alexander
    April Alexander
    Posted 2010/03/25
    at 11:07 PM ET

    I have made great strides over the past few years in how my family of 5 impacts the environment. From what we eat (organic when available), where our food comes from (local as much as possible living in NWT), the detergents/cleaners we use (natural), the list goes on... in truth though we could do more, so much more. Every day that goes by, every article I read and program I watch my passion for the survival of our planet grows. I will find ways to do more, consume less, help out... become proactive. I will and I will teach my children as much of this as I can. As a result hopefully they too will become passionate as well as their peers.

  • Salome
    Posted 2010/03/18
    at 12:02 AM ET

    I will never use artificial nitrates to fertilize my garden and I will drive responsibly, carpool when possible, and compost everything I can to make organic fertilizer. I wash my laundry, and clean my home with 100 per cent natural cleaners. I average two pounds of garbage every week - most of which is cat clumps of urine and feces.

  • Seymore Applebaum
    Posted 2010/03/01
    at 11:27 AM ET

    I heard Alanna Mitchell talk about the issue of ocean acidification at a stewardship forum I attended on February 27, 2010 in Toronto. Her first hand discription of what she saw when she explored the ocean depths really brought home the damage that is being done as a result of ongoing ocean acidification. This world-wide reality will need to be addressed immediately if we hope to have a chance of saving ocean habitat and much more. Everyone should see this Nature of Things series about the condition of our oceans and buy Alanna's book "Sea Sick."


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