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Growing ocean acidity (1)

By: Floro Mercene

Despite disastrous weather we are facing because of climate change, scientists say the worse is yet to come. Over the past 30 years there has been a pattern of increasingly higher average temperatures for the whole world. The average global temperature today is about l degree Celsius higher than it was in the late 19th century.

These rising temperatures – caused primarily by an increase of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere created when we burn coal, oil, and natural gas in power stations to generate electricity, drive our cars, and fuel in various industries – are what we refer to as global warming. Powerful rain and snow storm, intense drought periods, destructive flood, and super typhoons are a well-known consequence of a warmer planet.

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases, i.e. Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Fluorinated gasses. Global warming is primarily a problem of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This carbon overload is caused mainly when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas or cut down and burn forests.

At least one-quarter of the carbon dioxide released by human activities dissolves into the ocean. The world’s oceans are 26 percent more acidic today than at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when mankind started massively burning fossil fuels, which give off carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water, the water becomes more acidic. In the past 200 years alone, ocean water has become acidic faster than any known change in ocean chemistry in the last 50 million years. Such a relatively quick change in ocean chemistry doesn’t give marine life, which evolved over million years in an ocean with a generally stable pH.

(To be continued)