Ocean Acidification

Times Square, NYC


WITH 300 TONS of anthropogenic CO2 dissolving into the sea every second, coral, shell and bone is beginning to crumble as our oceans become more acidic.

The effects of agriculture and industry could be as devastating in geological time as the massive volcanic eruptions of the Triassic, or the asteroid impact of the Cretaceous.

What we do in our cities, has devastating repercussions on these cities beneath the sea, however distant they may be.

Reefs are vanishing at an alarming rate: 90% of Caribbean reefs have already disappeared. Scientists are now predicting all the world's coral reefs could be gone within our lifetime. Coral Reefs could be the first complete ecosystem to die as a result of man's global activities...

There could be a domino effect upon the rest of the oceans habitats, and ultimately upon ours too...

Are our disappearing reefs the canary in the mineshaft for the global ecosystem?

What would it mean to us if one of these vibrant wonderlands were to become the last reef?

To quote the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme:

'Already ocean pH has decreased by about 30% and if we continue emitting CO2 at the same rate by 2100 ocean acidity will increase by about 150%, a rate that has not been experienced for at least 400,000 years. Such a monumental alteration in basic ocean chemistry is likely to have wide implications for ocean life, especially for those organisms that require calcium carbonate to build shells or skeletons.'

In the USA, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has this to say on their acidification microsite:

'It is well established among researchers that the uptake of increased amounts of carbon dioxide will make ocean water more acidic as the gas dissolves to create carbonic acid. Ocean chemistry is changing 100 times more rapidly than in the 650,000 years that preceded the modern industrial era and since the late 1980s, researchers at Scripps Oceanography and others have recorded an overall drop in the pH of the oceans from 8.16 to 8.05.'

NOAA's coral reef conservation program now includes invaluable resources for students wishing to study the effects of Ocean Acidification and what we can do to help...

We aim to follow up on the message of the film with updates on this site regarding the state of the world's reefs  and  the latest research on acidification...
UPDATE: for a global perspective on the state of the world's oceans and how acidification fits into the big picture (and a positive vision of the future) check out Callum Roberts' new book 'Ocean of Life'.