Many people do not understand that the health of many things around the world largely depends on the health of the ocean. Over the years, the health of our waters is dwindling. As carbon dioxide continues to grow, the ocean is becoming more acidic and killing many of the creatures that live there. All of the extra carbon dioxides collected in the atmosphere is mainly due to the human ways of burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.
Carbon Levels Rising
Over the slow, ten thousand year process, oceans were able to absorb carbon dioxide and spit it back out. Because of humans, this process has been disrupted, largely due to the industrial revolution of the 18th century. From there, more and more fossil fuels were burned, leading to over 400 billion tons of carbon in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, most of that carbon will stay in the atmosphere and has led to the epidemic of global warming. About 25 percent of carbon is then absorbed by the ocean, leading to the waters becoming more and more acidic.
Acidity Levels are Rising
In order to measure something’s acidity levels, one must look at the pH balance. The more acidic something is, the lower it will fall on the pH scale. Before the industrial revolution, the oceans were slightly alkaline with a pH balance of about 8.1, which about the same acidity of an egg white. When measuring on a geological time scale, the ocean’s pH has shifted drastically. During the planet’s colder stages in the past, the ocean became more alkaline and slowly moved up 0.2 pH units and slowly moved down again to be more acidic when the planet became warmer again. This process to tens of thousands of years, which gave life in the ocean time to adjust and adapt.
Since the start of the industrial revolution in the middle of the 18th century, there has been a 0.1 pH unit drop in the oceans. When looking at this on a geological time scale, this is no time at all. The number may seem insignificant, but this has led to the oceans becoming 28 percent more acidic. Instead of this happening over the span of thousands of years, it only took hundreds. This leaves no time for living creatures in the ocean to adapt and now many of them are slowly dying.
More Challenges to Come
What is happening to the ocean shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Ocean life is dwindling by disturbing fishes’ sense of smell, weakening corals, softening the shells of scallops, and so much more. This may seem insignificant to humans, but this will have detrimental effects on the entire planet. Scientists have predicted 86 percent of the world’s ocean will be warmer, therefore more acidic than anything in modern history. The acidity levels will continue to build and continue to kill marine life along the way.