Ocean Acidification

So we all know about global warming.  But what effects does it have on the ocean?  All of the carbon dioxide (CO2) we produce doesn’t just go up into the air.  It goes into the ocean, too, which changes the chemistry of seawater.  CO2 levels in the ocean rise and the pH level of the ocean falls (becomes more acidic).  Organisms that produce calcium carbonate skeletons are impacted the most.  This includes corals and animals with hard shells.  With a more acidic ocean (lower pH), calcium carbonate skeletons become brittle and may even dissolve.

Below are photos from a scientific experiment conducted by NOAA.  It shows what happens to the shell of a pteropod when placed in seawater with the pH and CO2 levels projected for the year 2100.  The shell slowly dissolves after only 45 days.

With corals and shelled animals at risk, the rest of the food chain will also be impacted.  What can you do to help the ocean?  Reduce your carbon emissions.  Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

1. Invest in “green” electricity (renewable) such as solar or wind power.

2. Retrofit your home to be more energy efficient:  replace your bulbs with CFL’s; make sure you don’t leave lights on in unoccupied rooms; only plug-in electronics when you need them (TV, chargers, microwave, ect.); purchase energy efficient or water saving appliances.

3. Walk, cycle, or use public transit when possible, and don’t circle the parking lot more than once to get the closest stall to the mall entrance.

4. Remember the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Large amounts of energy is used in creating the products we buy.  Reducing our buying, reusing what we’ve already bought, and recycling what we’ve bought will help.

5. Buy local products and produce.  Living in Hawai’i, most of our products must be shipped or flown in, which emits CO2.  Buying local reduces the need to have things shipped or flown in.

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