The acidifying of the oceans is a by-product of the dumping of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. The rate of acidification threatens to damage the ability of shell-building organisms to maintain their protective armor. That threatens entire ecosystems.
Ocean acidity has increased 30 percent since before widespread industrialism. The levels are expected to increase by another 150 percent by the year 2100, according to the online version of Science magazine. That’s alarming, and measurable. Regions of the ocean where big upwelling occurs, like near the Pacific Coast of North America, are particularly vulnerable.
The nature of a changing atmosphere makes global climate change sometimes hard to quantify by observable weather. For ocean acidification, there’s a different set of problems, but public awareness is still the biggest bulwark against effective action.
The corporate interests wishing to secure profit over future have been very effective in convincing low information media consumers that there is no problem with excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans. The tactic proving most effective, and most insidious, is pushing the narrative that climate change is natural and inevitable.
By beginning with that obvious truth, the propaganda gets people to actually believe that because the climate does change, we shouldn’t worry about altering it in potentially disastrous ways. That’s like saying cars sometimes crash, so don’t worry about crashing cars.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we may be luckier than other regions when it comes to the ravages of climate change. We will likely experience wetter winters and drier summers, but won’t see the major drought other regions will endure. The changing of the ocean is another matter.
Our fishing industries, both commercial and recreational, will be impacted. Oyster farms might be forced to close. Deniers will see the fruits of ocean acidification change the very nature of the seas before rising water levels and severe weather variants convince even the most thick-headed. It’s a global problem, and it will have hundreds of stories impacting different localities and regions.
The ocean is sounding an alarm, and we would be wise to listen. As the seas become more saturated, they will be less able to absorb more CO2, which will accelerate climate change. We can take real action now, or live with the consequences for untold generations.