Ever since we started using machines to our economic and industrial advantage, experts have noticed changes in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) we continuously emit to the atmosphere.
Aside that this affects global temperature, it also impacts the acidity levels in our oceans.
The power of hydrogen, or pH level, is the concentration of hydrogen ion in a body. The scale ranges from 0 to 14 and the higher number it gets in the scale, the less acidic or basic it is.
Normally, ocean pH level is 7 which is considered basic or alkaline in order for the usual marine life to flourish. But due to the high emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, these become directed to our waters which the oceans absorb.
Oceans are naturally a carbon sink which means that they take part in the carbon dioxide cycle. CO2 is absorbed by the planktons in the surface of the ocean and then stored within ocean beds. However, increase in the degree of CO2 emissions causes spillovers that makes seawaters acidic. Currently, our ocean’s pH level is .05 degree higher compared to 25 years ago.
It may not look that bad but an increase in the pH level means a disturbance in the normal water chemistry that poses a great threat to marine life development and sustenance.
Biological and Economical Effect
Too much seawater CO2 absorption creates a chemical reaction that reduces calcium carbonate saturation and carbonate ion concentration. These chemicals are important building blocks of marine life. In areas in the ocean that are saturated, calcifying organisms are able to build their shells and skeletons. However due to increasing seawater pH levels, some parts of the oceans are being undersaturated and it causes not just reef malformation but infertility in fishes as well.
If this continues, the whole food chain will be affected.
Aside that billions of people rely on marine produce as a main source of protein, a huge fraction of jobs also rely on this industry. If pH levels pursues to increase, eventually the natural ability of marine life to sustain itself will diminish or worse, stop.
Thus, scientists and policy makers are already urging possibilities to reduce carbon emissions or the pH level will again drop and make the oceans more acidic. If this happens, it is not just the food chain that will be affected but it will greatly destroy the marine ecosystem.
Acidification Causes and Other Implications
What is disturbing is that since the movement for mitigation is new, it will take years to possibly revert or reduce the effects since our industries and living are highly dependent to our current energy sources. As population increases, so does energy consumption. If CO2 becomes excessive, it will not only drop pH levels but will also saturate the atmosphere worsening global temperature.