Oceans in Peril

The ocean plays a critical role in regulating climate systems and sustaining life on Earth. Human civilisation however is putting increasing pressure on the marine ecosystem and thereby increasing the risk of danger to our planet's fragile ecosystem. Overfishing, pollution, waste dumping and the excess emission of 'greenhouse gases' such as carbon dioxide (CO₂ ) leading to  ocean acidification and climate change have the potential to lead to long term catastrophic consequences if continued at their current level.


Ocean Acidification

The greatest threat to the ocean’s ecosystems is the combination of ocean acidification and ocean warming. Ocean acidification is the result of excess CO ₂ emissions dissolving in the oceans and changing the chemistry of the ocean water.   CO ₂ emissions are mainly caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and have dramatically increased since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution nearly 200 years ago.  

Even the slightest change in ocean acidity make it difficult for hard-shell marine species to produce their shell as this acidity depletes the alkaline carbonate molecules to form hard shells or skeletons.

Plankton, the microscopic animals at the base of the marine food chain, are at the greatest risk from ocean acidification due to the fact that many of their delicate shells are formed of calcium carbonate.   Ecosystems such as corals reefs, known as the rainforests of the ocean for sheltering maturating fish and providing a rich source of food for all marine life, are also at risk as ocean acidification is affecting the ability of the soft reef-forming animals to harden and calcify the carbonate shells around them.

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