Ocean Acidification, Causes and Environmental Influences

What is Ocean Acidification?, What are the Causes and Environmental Influences?

Ocean acidification is, simply put, the change of the pH balance of the waters in our oceans. The pH levels of the ocean’s waters drop and this is because the water absorbs what is called anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide is basically carbon dioxide produced by humans. This is because of our daily activities on earth, like the burning of fossil fuels for example. This has nothing to do with our respiratory functions that produce carbon.

Studies have shown that our oceans absorbs a third of the carbon we emit into the atmosphere. This, in a way cleans our air, but its ecological effects are something to worry about when our carbon output is unnaturally high.

What is ocean acidification?

Because carbon dioxide dissolves in water, carbon dioxide logically dissolves in our sea water as well. It is this dissolving of carbon dioxide that leads to a drop in the water’s pH balance and thus cause acidification. The effect is devastating on aquatic life, which in turn depletes humans ability to rely on food from the ocean.

It is only a logical conclusion that once the chemistry of our oceans’ waters change, that which live within the water, will also change. See it this way – Most of us know what the negative effects of our carbon emissions are on the air we have to breathe in every day. A project called Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) has found that one in four children living in the Bronx, suffer from asthma.

Now apply this thought to the ocean. The water being the air and the fish, for the purposes of this explanation, is the children of the Bronx.

Causes and Environmental Influences

Ocean acidification influences the ecosystem of marine life. Studies have already found that because an acidy environment eats away at things such as the shells, shell creatures and species that have calcium carbonate in their bodies are negatively influenced by the water’s acidity. The death of a few species might not seem drastic, but taking a step back and looking at how an ecosystem works, this becomes a problem.

All ecosystems work in an exquisite cycle, for instance plants live off of other plants (and sometimes bugs as well), while animals live off of plants and each other. Take away one and an entire food system disappears.

Ocean acidification influences our marine ecosystems. It is something that not only we rely on to survive, but animals also rely on to survive. A death of one ecosystem will result in the death of another. This is an endless cycle and the human ecosystem will eventually also play victim. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN

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