Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

What's Wrong with our Oceans? - the Acid Answer

by 'Sailors for the Sea' on 31 Oct 2008
Earth from the Apollo spacecraft .. .
Perhaps our planet should have been named 'Ocean' rather than 'Earth' given that the majority of Earth is comprised of water not land: seventy-one percent to be precise. Humans are also comprised mostly of water, a strikingly analogous seventy percent.

In both cases, a proper pH is required not only for vibrant health, but for long-term survival. However, recently the pH of our oceans has been changing, becoming more acidic. Seawater is naturally alkaline, with a healthy pH ranging from 7.8 to 8.5 (7 is neutral).

Since the industrial revolution, and the accompanying atmospheric pollution, the pH has dropped nearly thirty percent, the largest change in our water’s pH in the past two billion years. Science strongly suggests this drop is a direct result of humans producing excessive amounts of carbon dioxide via, car emissions; burning of coal, natural gas, and oil; deforestation; increases in livestock; and even some of our new energy alternatives such as ethanol, to name a few.

These emissions saturate our air, exacerbating global warming. When water and air come into contact there is an exchange of gases. For decades now, our oceans have absorbed nearly one-third of this excess carbon dioxide, conceivably staving off a far greater “land” crisis than we are currently facing. With a daily intake of twenty-two million metric tons of carbon dioxide, and a yearly projection of two billion tons, our waters can no longer keep up with the demands we are making.

The oceans function as our planet's life support system. They moderate our climate and, as noted, filter pollution. They supply us with a rich diversity of food, minerals, and medicines. We also turn to them as a source of comfort, relaxation, recreation, and inspiration. However, due to a steady unchecked decline, our oceans are in trouble, which in turn poses a threat to marine life, coastal and pelagic ecosystems, our economy, coastal cultures and societies.

Our oceans are teeming with organisms that depend on protective shells or external skeletons to survive. Plankton, mollusks, and crustaceans are a few well-known examples. But when the oceans absorb carbon dioxide, carbonic acid is formed. This is the same acid that gives soft drinks their fizz, a fizz that, in this case, dissolves the shells, leaving these organisms vulnerable. Because so many of these organisms serve as the basis of the marine food web, which in turn supports life on land, this breakdown has sweeping effects. In other words, when phytoplankton are in jeopardy, all life—on land or at sea—shares their fate.

While it is normal for plankton to periodically dump their shells in order to regulate the acidity of the oceans (which in turn helps to regulate the planet’s temperature), human-generated ocean acidification has disrupted this natural cycle. As a result, coral reefs—teeming with so much life they’re akin to underwater rainforests—are bleaching. If the coral reefs are allowed to die, as many as a million different species could die with them; and many coastal communities would lose the natural buffer protection the reefs offer against storm surges and hurricanes.

Naturally, this decline in coral reefs and phytoplankton has had a profound effect on all marine life. Fish stocks are already in collapse. For instance, the waters surrounding the Aleutian Islands, once an oceanic Shangri-La resplendent with sunbathing sea lions, lunching sea otters, killer whales and underwater forests of kelp, are now all but barren; most likely the result of plankton dying off.

Not only are we directly interfering with the food chain, but are also causing profound economic implications. Americans, for instance, spend nearly sixty billion dollars each year on fish and shellfish; and coastal and marine commercial fishing generates as much as thirty billion dollars a year while providing close to seventy thousand jobs.

The two most important factors for an organism to survive in the ocean are temperature and acidity, and through ocean acidification we’re altering both. There are many schools of thought on the severity of this damage. Some camps believe even if we stop everything now, it will take 10,000 years for our oceans to bounce back.

The true extent of the harm will be determined during the upcoming years as further investigation occurs and our understanding grows. In the meantime, we know many of the contributors to global warming are also responsible for ocean acidification. Change is happening quickly and the actions each of us takes to address ocean acidification will impact the planet during our lifetime and beyond.

So what can YOU do?

**Consider driving a vehicle that produces less greenhouse gas emissions and gets better mileage.

**Research and purchase less harmful power from your energy company, such as solar or wind.

**Avoid coal power.

**Solar panels will get you off the grid and keep your home lit when others experience a power outage.

**Check in your country or state if rebates or discounts for the purchase of solar power exist where you live.

**Work from home, if possible.

**Carpool to work or ride public transportation if available.

**Pedal to the marina.

**Sail.




Links:
Sailors for the Sea (SFS) Home Page: http://www.sailorsforthesea.org/
Sailors for the Sea (SFS) Membership: http://www.sailorsforthesea.org/membership/index.html

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/OA/
The Ocean Acidification Network: http://iodeweb3.vliz.be/oanet/index.html
A Sea Change Trailer: http://blip.tv/file/323677/

North Technology - Southern SparsSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82Zhik Yachting 660x82

Related Articles

America's Cup - TechTuesday - Data drives athlete performance
Gathering real-time data isn’t just important for our Americas Cup racing catamarans, but our athletes as well. Gathering real-time data isn’t just important for our Americas Cup racing catamarans, but our athletes as well. Find out from Oracle Team USA physical performance manager Craig McFarlane how the team are using Zephyr Performance Systems to monitor athletes on the water and in the gym.
Posted on 28 Sep
Legendary Mitch Booth to compete in St-Barth Cata Cup 2016
Sixty teams have already confirmed they will be competing in the event. As a triple world champion, Booth is no stranger to the F18. For this edition, he will be joined by Andy Dinsdale, a regular on the waters around St Barth.
Posted on 28 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ gaining speed on the water + Video
There has been one predominant focus at Emirates Team NZ this past couple of months - gaining speed on the water There has been one predominant focus at Emirates Team New Zealand this past couple of months - gaining speed on the water. The team has been lying low, quietly chipping away and making gains on the water on their first in house designed and built AC45 test boat.
Posted on 28 Sep
RS Aerocup - Another magic day at Lake Garda - Day 2
Per Christian continued his domination with a string of firsts showing magical downwind speed through the waves. Per Christian of Norway continued his domination with a string of firsts showing magical downwind speed through the waves.
Posted on 25 Sep
2016 Star Sailors League Finals – Count down to Nassau
The reigning Star World Champion, Miami's Augie Diaz (USA) will be competing in Nassau but is yet to announce his crew. As always the top 12 skippers in the SSL Ranking for the year are invited to challenge and join 13 VIPs sailors selected for the successes achieved in their sailing career.
Posted on 22 Sep
Southern Spars en route to Monaco – Stand QSE2
It’s been another big year for the NZ based company, there's lots of exciting things to talk about the Monaco Yacht Show It’s been another big year for the New Zealand based company, giving us lots of exciting things to talk about at the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show like our two big projects Adix and Aquijo. Adix, the three-masted 65-metre Dykstra schooner, has been transformed by a rig refit by Southern Spars and Future Fibres.
Posted on 22 Sep
America's Cup - Ken Read reflects on the recent World Series - Toulon
Commentator Ken Read on the recently completed round of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Toulon, France. North Sails President, Ken Read, doubles as a live commentator for the official TV feed from the America's Cup World Series. Here's his thoughts, from his blog on the North Sails website on the recently completed round of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Toulon, France. Read also looks ahead to the final round of the America's Cup World Series is Fukuoka, Japan and the strategies
Posted on 22 Sep
North Sails pays tribute to former owner Terry Kohler
Terry Kohler’s vision, leadership, and generosity will be felt within North Sails, and the sport for many years to come The North Sails Group is deeply saddened by the passing of Terry Kohler, owner of North Sails from 1984-2014. North Sails and all of its employees around the world would like to pass their condolences to the family Terry leaves behind, especially his wife Mary. Terry Kohler’s vision, leadership, and generosity will be felt within North Sails, and the sport for many years to come.
Posted on 22 Sep
America's Cup - CNN Mainsail goes inside the teams in Bermuda and UK
CNN goes inside four of the America's Cup teams in Bermuda and Portsmouth, UK for an insight into the design processes Double Olympic Gold medallist and presenter of the outstanding CNN Mainsail series, Shirley Robertson, goes inside four of the America's Cup teams in Bermuda and Portsmouth, UK for an insight into the design processes and angles being pursued by the teams. Then she goes on the water and sees the design teams and sailing teams working together.
Posted on 20 Sep
WIM Series moves on to the US
Next week will see the WIM Series midway event, the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, USA. Next week will see the Women’s International Match Racing Series (WIM Series) midway event, the Buddy Melges Challenge in Sheboygan, USA.
Posted on 19 Sep