Friday, April 23, 2010

Ocean acidification : the other CO2 issue

ACID TEST, a film produced by
NRDC, was made to raise awareness about the largely unknown problem of ocean acidification, which poses a fundamental challenge to life in the seas and the health of the entire planet. Like global warming, ocean acidification stems from the increase of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Leading scientific experts on the problem, many of whom appear in the film and the outtakes below, believe that it's possible to cut back on global warming pollution, improve the overall health and durability of our oceans, and prevent serious harm to our world, but only if action is taken quickly and decisively.

Our oceans feed the world, provide jobs, and generate most of the planet's oxygen. Oceans cover 71 percent of the earth and contain more than 97 percent of the world's water. Our survival literally depends on their health. And yet few people realize that the oceans are suffering from a grave affliction caused by increased carbon pollution.

More than one quarter of the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels enters our oceans, where it makes the water more acidic. Scientists have just recently discovered that this rising acidity is threatening ocean life as we know it.

This documentary give our lawmakers - those with the power to limit carbon dioxide pollution - the opportunity to better understand what is happening to our seas due to our dependence on fossil fuels. It vividly illustrates what is happening to our oceans, and offers solutions to revitalize them.

Excess carbon dioxide is making marine waters more acidic, which causes a drop in carbonate, the key component in shells. When carbonate levels fall, it is more difficult for organisms to make their shells, which become thinner and more brittle.

Ocean acidity has increased an average of 30 percent since the industrial revolution. If we continue to dump carbon dioxide into our seas, ocean acidification could result in a "global osteoporosis", harming not only commercially important shellfish, such as lobster, crabs, and mussels, but also key species in marine food webs such as corals and plankton. That could send shock-waves up the food chain, threatening fish, birds, and mammals.

Rising ocean acidity will also hit our economy hard. In the United States alone, ocean-related tourism, recreation and fishing are responsible for over 2 million jobs. Indeed, the U.S. ocean economy creates two and a half times the economic output as the agricultural sector, contributing more than $230 billion to the nation's GDP annually.

We don't have to watch these economic opportunities evaporate in the face of acidification.
We can take steps to turn back the tide.

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