Our Oceans Are Becoming Acidic: How Can You Help?
Updated: Sep 10
Step out onto your front porch, balcony, or rooftop. For every square mile of land, you can see, there’s twice as much ocean on planet Earth. Two thirds of our planet is covered by ocean. If Earth was the human body, oceans would be our lungs, providing 50% of our oxygen and absorbing 25% of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. They are a source for medicine from the fishes and flora of the seafloor. They are a source of economic growth for many nations and states that have ocean borders; take the Caribbean for instance. At least one in five times when you consume protein, you’ve eaten something from the ocean.
But the story may not be the same for long, especially as we march deeper into the 21st century. In the early 1900’s the development of the pH scale allowed scientist to document changes in the ocean. What they found, we now know as ocean acidification.
What is ocean acidification?
Earlier I told you that the oceans absorb 25% of the carbon dioxide we breath out. So where does the rest go? Ideally, the bulk of it is absorbed by trees and greenery, which also produce oxygen for us. Unfortunately, more trees and farmlands are destroyed faster than new ones can be grown to take their place. The result of this is that the oceans have to absorb more carbon dioxide than it ideally should.
As more carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, it becomes more acidic, forcing pH levels to go down. The result is acidification, which is happening 10 times faster than ever before, faster than marine life can adopt to. Acidification causes carbonate ions in the ocean to decrease. Carbonate ions are the building blocks of shells and coral. Coral supports 25% of all marine life. It is estimated that by the end of this century, 2100, the oceans will be so acidic that 70% of corals will begin to dissolve. If that happens, the oceans and all the rich life they boast of may become the stuff of museums.
We may not be able to stop climate change, but we can slow it down. Reducing our CO2 emissions and planting more trees can slow down the rate of ocean acidification.
Here are some ways you can help.
> Vote for local, state and government officials that are climate-conscious, irrespective of party affiliation. The fallouts of ocean acidification do not discriminate along party lines, neither should you.
> Choose a vegan or vegetarian diet, or eat less red meat. This encourages the cultivation of green areas to absorb more carbon dioxide
> Recycle, reuse, reduce
> Compost your waste so it becomes bio-degradable, useful as organic fertilizer, and also beneficial to ocean life
> Buy from the bulk aisle and serve yourself only one what you can consume at a sitting. It’s your food, it’s your money, if you need more, you can always get more.
> Use solar, wind or wave energy
> Choose energy-efficient appliances
> Walk, skate, bike instead of taking the car. You’ll keep fit this way and reduce your carbon footprint
> Buy in season, local and organic products
> Enjoy slow fashion, eco-fashion, ethical fashion, and buy second hand clothing
> Use cold water to wash your clothes. You’ll be reducing your electricity bill and conserving energy resources.