The quiet tsunami…

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“As destructive as the effects of warmer oceans and higher seas are, there is one other form of oceanic disruption caused by CO2 overload that tops everything else in terms of its extent and impact. It’s happening right now, under our noses, and it’s visible in the coral reefs, ocean beds, and bottom-dwelling shellfish all over the planet: They are literally being eaten away by a chemical process called acidification.

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The catastrophic effects of this assault on the very foundation of the ocean’s food web are immeasurable. But when was the last time you saw a headline about it? 

Once again– out of sight, out of mind…

Again, for ages before the Industrial Revolution kicked in, there was a beautiful natural balance in this oceanic scrubbing system. But in the more than two hundred years since then, those extra 500 billion metric tons of CO2 the oceans have absorbed have pushed the undersea filtering system to its limits. The balance has been completely lost as the levels of acidity in the seawater all over the planet have risen substantially. Here are just a few numbers that show how severely things have shifted.

The acidity of the planet’s oceans has risen by nearly 30 percent since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. 

The current rate of ocean acidification is at least a hundred times faster than the maximum rate over the previous hundreds of thousands of years…

Acidification is just as destructive to coral reefs as it is to individual calcifying organisms. Besides their magnificent beauty, coral reefs are treasured for their critical role as marine habitat. Despite the fact that their total mass constitutes just over 1 percent of the oceans’ continental shelves–about half the size of France–more than 25 percent of all marine life depends on coral reefs. The disappearance of these reefs, say scientists, would be akin to wiping out the world’s rain forests…

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The current rate of destruction and death among the world’s coral reefs due to a multitude of threats including trawling and bleaching is–there’s no better word for it–horrifying. Close to 30 percent of the world’s tropical reefs have vanished since 1980, including more than half of the reefs in the Caribbean. At this rate, scientists forecast that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be dead by the year 2050, and all tropical reefs on the planet could be gone by the end of this century.”

Oceana