Deep CO2 Cuts May Be Last Hope for Acid Oceans

(Report from the World Oceans Conference in Indonesia)

gbr cap mushroom death4By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 15 (IPS) –

Ocean acidification offers the clearest evidence of dangers of climate change.

And yet the indisputable fact that burning fossil fuels is slowly turning the oceans into an acid bath has been largely ignored by industrialised countries and their climate treaty negotiators, concluded delegates from 76 countries at the World Oceans Conference in Manado, Indonesia.

Oceans and coastal areas must be on the agenda at the crucial climate talks in Copenhagen in December, they wrote in a declaration. “We must come to the rescue of the oceans,” declared Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening of high-level government talks on Thursday in the northern city of Manado.

It is fair to say most international climate negotiators aren’t aware of the impacts of climate change on the oceans, said Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of the IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.

“Very few people understand that carbon emissions are making the oceans acidic,” Lundin told IPS.

Over the past 150 years, burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The oceans have absorbed more than one-third – about 130 billion tonnes – of those human emissions and have become 30 percent more acidic as the extra CO2 combines with carbonate ions in seawater, forming carbonic acid.

Each day, the oceans absorb 30 million tonnes of CO2, gradually and inevitably increasing their acidity. There is no controversy about this basic chemistry.

This increased acidity is affecting coral reefs and shell-forming organisms like clams and many types of plankton. Newer research suggests that it may also affect basic physiological functions for many types of marine organisms.

Rising levels of acidity may also increase the size of oceanic dead zones – areas that have too little oxygen to support life, according to research published in Science magazine Apr. 19. Dead zones, such as the one in Gulf of Mexico, have dramatically increased in number and size around the world in the past three decades.

“Climate change will have a huge number of very serious impacts on the oceans,” said Duncan Currie of Greenpeace New Zealand.

For complete article see: ENVIRONMENT: Deep CO2 Cuts May Be Last Hope for Acid Oceans.

NOTE!  Here are the latest science articles documenting how global warming is transforming the Oceans and threatening Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs and Acid Oceans Series

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