We live in a place where water is taking up 70% of the space. Don’t you wonder why? is this some kind of accidence or deliberately done the nature or God? What we know so far is that the ocean does a really good job at slowing down the pace of global warming, but is that all?
Turns out the excellent job done by the ocean comes with a high cost.
Human activity has really brought Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission levels rising, and a lot of consequences have occurred in the past few years. As the number of CO2 emissions got higher, the ocean has to absorb them, In fact, the ocean has become the biggest carbon soaker so far. Around 25% of CO2 has been absorbed by the ocean. Another recent study suggests that the figure could be even higher. This massive absorption has never happened before the industrial era, in fact, before 1760 ocean was actually a net sink of carbon.
Having the ocean as the greatest carbon soaker is good news, as when CO2 traps in the ocean, it no longer acts as a greenhouse gas. The ocean not only absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere but also heat. This occurs because the earth is getting warmer and as the law of physic, the energy will travel from warm to cold, and in this case ocean is the place where the heat goes. We now might think the existence of the ocean is really helping us from the damage we have done, but what we do not know is that while this happening, there are lives under the ocean suffering and in turn will affect us all. In short, we will obviously have to pay a great cost if we don’t act immediately to stop CO2 level further increases.
When CO2 goes to the ocean, chemical reactions happen, as such lowering the pH level, and making the ocean more acidic. This phenomenon is known as Ocean Acidification.
The acidity of the substance is measured with a pH scale:
7 = Neutral,
7 = Basic (Alkaline)
<7 = Acid
As the ocean gets more acidic, it makes the carbon ion bond with the excess hydrogen, thus resulting in fewer carbonate ions left for the calcifying organism – the plants and animals that use calcium carbonate for structure and protection – to build and maintain their shells. Animals and plants that are suffering from this are oysters and coral reefs. Ocean acidification has already made coral reefs grow slowly and become weaker, this event is known as Coral Bleaching. If the pH level continuously decreases their shells and skeleton can even begin to dissolve.
Most animals and plants require specific climate conditions – such as temperature and rainfall patterns – to thrive. Let’s take algae, for example, when the ocean gets warm, algae can not carry out photosynthesis. Algae has been important for coral, as they live in symbiosis. Algae share food – from photosynthesis – with coral, in turn, coral gives nice shelter for algae to live. If somehow coral couldn’t get shared food from algae, then coral will become weak and eventually die. Some species of fish also couldn’t be able to survive in hot water, they tend to move to the deeper ocean to tolerate their body. The availability of some key prey species was found to be lower in the warm water. This warming condition can lead to biodiversity loss. From an economical standpoint, this is also a great problem, the fishing industry employs more than 56 million people worldwide, and fish has been a vital source of protein for half of the world’s population. Warming ocean has also made storm stronger and more frequent.