Rising acid levels in the world’s oceans now threatens everything from coral reefs to global food security, Jane Lubchenco, the head of America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday. The level of acid in oceans now rivals climate change as its “equally evil twin,” she told AP.
“We’ve got sort of the perfect storm of stressors from multiple places really hammering reefs around the world.”
This was announced at the International Coral Reef Symposium in the northeast city of Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef: “It’s a very serious situation,” she added.
As humans pump excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from industry, travel, consumption of meat, and heating and cooling their homes, the oceans absorb it, leading to an increased acidity in the water. This acidity literally melts the bodies of animals made from shells, and it prevents coral from laying down new exoskeleton. Rising acidity has also found to impair the sense of smell of some fish, like in salmon and clown fish. It’s not known what will happen to the ecology of the sea should reefs die-off altogether.
While there is no quick fix to removing carbon dioxide gas from the seas and oceans, we can do our part by finding ways to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution, Lubchenco noted.
Seas with coral reef to lose in the Middle East include the Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea.
Image of woman snorkeling over coral reef from Shutterstock