Acid Bath: Ocean pH Decrease Fastest In 300 Million Years

Ocean Road - photo by Matt Hintsa

Columbia University scientists say increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – due to carbon emissions from industrial activity – has caused a 0.1 pH decrease of the Earth’s oceans, making them more acidic. Bloomberg reports the decrease is “10 times faster than the closest historical comparison from 56 million years ago.”

Baerbel Hoenisch, the lead author of the findings published in Science, said “If industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about — coral reefs, oysters, salmon.” Hoenisch is a paleoceanographer at Columbia.

from Bloomberg – Oceans Acidifying Fastest in 300 Million Years Due to Emissions:

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said ocean pH may fall another 0.3 units this century, according to Columbia. The closest change to the current pace occurred during the so-called Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago, when a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide may have pushed pH levels down by 0.45 units over 20,000 years, according to the researchers.

Ocean acidification is linked to past occurrences of mass extinctions of marine life. This is just one more unintended consequence of human industrial activity and is likely to be denied or explained away by Republicans, conservatives and climate change deniers, who increasingly are the same. Even if they acknowledge it, they deny it’s because of human activity, and they will say it doesn’t matter anyway because to do something about it would mean slightly less profits for big corporations.


photo by Matt Hintsa

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