Ocean Acidification due to CO2 a "...very real and serious threat"

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is responsible for climate change, anyone can tell you that, but the effect of CO2 on the oceans to date has been downplayed. The acidification of the world's oceans will finally be addressed this December if a recently published statement backed by dozens of leading scientific academies is heeded.

When carbon dioxide is absorbed by sea water, irreversible ocean acidification occurs and will cause, "…massive corrosion of coral reefs and dramatic changes in the makeup of ocean biodiversity", according to the statement from 70 of the world's leading science academies which include the Royal Society and the UK nation academy of science.

They warn that the increased acidity of the world's oceans has to be address at the United Nations Copenhagen climate negotiations in December. The agreement formed from these meetings is significant as it will pick up where the Kyoto Protocol terminates in 2012.

The statement reveals that the oceans are presently more acidic than they've been for the past 800,000 years. If not addressed, alarming consequences for food production and the livelihood of millions will result. "Unless global CO2 emissions can be cut by at least 50 percent by 2050 and more thereafter, we could confront an underwater catastrophe, with irreversible changes in the makeup of our marine biodiversity," said Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society.

"The effects will be seen worldwide, threatening food security, reducing coastal protection and damaging the local economies that may be least able to tolerate it," states Rees. "Copenhagen must address this very real and serious threat."

The statement reports that their current emission estimates imply that all polar ecosystems and coral reefs will be direly effected by 2050 or sooner. It further calls on world leaders to commit to the following:

  • Admit that ocean acidification is directly linked to atmospheric CO2 levels, is already effecting the oceans at current levels and will only worsen as CO2 levels climb to 450 parts per million and beyond.
  • Realize that reducing C02 build up is the only practical way to deal with acidification of the oceans.
  • Take immediate action to globally reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum of 50% of 1990 levels by 2050 and persist in reduction efforts thereafter.
    Increase resilience to ocean acidification by reducing secondary causes like overfishing and pollution on marine ecosystems.

There is some cause for optimism that the Copenhagen talks will lead to positive action, Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change states that he is encouraged by current negotiations.

"Within the talks, we have an almost complete list of industrialized nations' pledges to cut emissions after 2012, so governments can see more clearly where they are in comparison to each other, and can build a higher ambition on that basis," de Boer said. He also stated that many national stimulus packages have been created that feature green economic objectives from participants of the Major Economies Forum.

Posted by David on June 9,2009 at 7:42 PM

For a moderating view of acidification effects


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