Jul 26 2012

Osteoporosis of the Sea

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The ocean covers over 75% of Earth’s surface, yet is an extremely sensitive area. It is home to some of the most unique organisms that need a specific environment to grow. The constant state it has been in for thousands of years has allowed the marine organisms we see today grow and thrive. Increases in carbon dioxide emissions threaten this delicate balance in these waters. The ocean acts as a storage container for carbon dioxide, with colder waters trapping more of the gas in its deep waters. Reducing the carbon dioxide in the air we breathe is great, however increasing carbon dioxide in the ocean can and will have detrimental affects to the marine life. The ocean has the potential to become more acidic the more carbon dioxide it absorbs. One problem it poses is reducing the ability for animals that require calcium carbonate to build their skeletons. These include oysters, clams and corals. Oysters provide some areas of the world with million dollar industries that they depend on to survive. Not only do corals provide ecotourism for some areas, they also house over 25% of the world’s fish. If corals and oysters cannot develop, the human population will be hit incredibly hard as well. Many developing nations depend on these industries for their livelihood. There is evidence already that coral are suffering from the increasing acidity of the ocean. In the Great Barrier reef for example, coral development has slowed down significantly in the past couple of years. Coral are more stressed which makes them more susceptible to diseases. This issue is not one that will affect one area in the world.

Biodiversity of a coral reef

Water is flowing and ocean acidification will affect everyone. It’s time that humans look at what problems we are causing in the water and what potential problems we can cause. Carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced in all countries and renewable resources should be more seriously considered. Countries that see acidification of the ocean as a problem are establishing an Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center. This is a great step in the right direction to ensure that the ocean and all its wonders will be around for another thousand years.

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