Ocean Acidification

 

Acidity in the ocean is now reaching the point of saturation! This will eventually reduce the number of ocean creatures especially the corals, which will be hazardous to the ecosystem and the economy of the world.

The Problem

“Acidity”; does that mean “Hydrochloric acid”, “Sulfuric acid” and so on? Well, it is true that these are definitely acids but, if these were added to oceans wouldn’t it cause a mega explosion! So what is “Ocean Acidification”? As carbon dioxide is given off to the surrounding environment, nearly 25% of the carbon dioxide present in the air is absorbed by the ocean surface which then combines with the other elements present in the ocean water to form acids such as carbolic acid. Carbolic acid dissolves calcium-containing structures like bones, skeletons, corals etc. Thus, ocean acidification is harmful for the aquatic life, as the acid generated at the ocean surface would dissolve the aquatic organisms such as shellfish, corals and the skeleton of other sea creatures.

Higher levels of acid means lesser life span for sea animals. This is referred to as ocean acidification. According to the “Planet Earth Herald” this is now becoming a huge problem; the acidity of the ocean at the surface level has increased by a factor of 30% within the past two centuries. What’s more is it’s expected to increase by another 150% in a century to come. This increase in the percentage of the acidity in the oceans can be proven by a decrease in the pH. A decrease in pH indicates acidity while an increase in the pH indicates basicity.

Today the pH on the surface of the oceans has dropped to 8.1 from 8.2, which clearly shows a 25% increase in the acid levels of the oceans within a span of 200 years. This is very crucial especially to the Middle Eastern countries as they are located on the Arabian Peninsula that is surrounded by water bodies on all three sides of the land: the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Fishing and pearl rearing is a major source of income for the Arab World with about 30 million people of the Arab world directly dependent on corals for food resources, coastal protection and most importantly tourism.

A large part of the UAE economy is dependent on fishing and tourism. If you visit the Dubai Pearl Museum you will learn about pearl diving and you’ll understand the role it plays in the culture. But in addition to the pearl diving exhibits, you’ll also see the beautiful corals that are present around the waters of the UAE. The increase in the levels of acidity in these oceans will reduce the number of fish and corals surrounding the Arab world, which could have a knock down effect on GDP and economic growth. So in order to maintain both economic and ecological stability of the Arab countries, it is important that we turn our attention to maintaining the pH of the oceans on a global level.

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The Solution

 

Although ocean acidification is a very alarming problem, it can eventually be eradicated in a few years from now. All it takes, is for you to take a step forward and try weaving the following suggestions into your everyday life!

1 – Eat Blue

—Eat lower on the food chain

Smaller fishes are found in abundance compared to that of the larger fishes and also contain smaller amounts of mercury, which makes it very healthy. This includes squid, mackerel, sardines and mussels.

—Eat Local

Eat the fish varieties that are local unless they have been depleted in the local waters. This includes tuna and hamour.

—Avoid Eating frozen food!

Frozen seafood like fish and shrimp contain higher carbon dioxide gas emission but cost lesser.

—Eat MSC Certified Fish

MSC, which stands for “Marine Stewardship Council”, certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable manner and is recommended for consumption.

2 – Use Green Gardening Techniques

Run off from washing your cars and watering your plants contains higher levels of carbon and nitrogen gas. This will get into the oceans and increase the levels of ocean acidity. By reducing the use of fertilizers and managing water and energy effectively you can reduce your emission of carbon dioxide from your gardens!

3 – Reduce Car Use

Consider adding a bicycle or walk into your routine. And be sure to carpool, if you’re going as a group, instead of using multiple cars! (http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/what-you-can-do.asp)

4 – Use Hot Water More Efficiently

Wash your clothes in cold water instead of in hot water. Use lower temperature settings of the heater and wrap it with insulation. This can help in keeping the temperature in control by slowing down the production of the acid on the surface of the ocean.

5 – Drive Smart

Begin to drive your vehicle only after making sure that the tires are inflated, as deflated tires will result in the increased emission of gasoline into the atmosphere. Check and refill your tires to reduce the amount of gasoline, and consequently carbon dioxide emission.

6 – Waste Less Food

Reduce the wastage of food, especially meat. This is because meat production results in the release of large volumes of carbon dioxide gas into the surrounding environment. This in turn increases the concentration of the acid on the surface of the ocean.

7 – Run a Home Energy Audit

Many utility companies offer free or subsidized audits, which typically involve evaluating appliances and lighting, checking insulation, and looking for air leaks around doors, pipes and windows. By running home energy audits regularly you can check the amount of carbon dioxide emission at your home, and work to mitigate it.

8 – Use Alternative Form Of Energy

Burning fossil fuels results in the production of massive amounts of carbon dioxide and is in fact the root of global warming. The use of alternative form of energy like water and wind energy will eventually result in the reduced emission of carbon dioxide gas.

9- Plant More Trees

In order to control the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere it is important to increase the number of trees especially in the cities where there is a huge concentration of automobiles. The trees absorb the harmful carbon dioxide gas released by vehicles and industries. This way less carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere and consequently less is absorbed into the ocean.

 

By Gaayathri Veeraragavan

References

(http://coralreef.noaa.gov/aboutcorals/facts/coral_dependence.html)

(www.heritage.org/index/country/unitedarabemirates)

(http://planetearthherald.com/top-10-environmental-issues/)

(http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/)

http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/what-you-can-do.asphttps://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A86.JyKUeV1VbQ0AlMUnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTE0MGFvdjFvBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDRkZYVUkyNV8xBHNlYwNzYw–?qid=20140110114239AAbid69http://oceanacidification.noaa.gov/Home/Whatcanyoudo.aspx(http://www.adn.com/article/20090827/take-few-simple-steps-reduce-ocean-acidification)

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