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Ocean Acidification: History Repeating Itself

Ocean Acidification: History Repeating Itself

Some 55 million years ago, a huge underwater volcano erupted and released massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the oceans.

This underwater eruption, also known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), caused the mass extinction of between 30 and 50 perfect marine life.

It took our oceans 80,000 years to recover.

And today, humans produce around one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per hour — nearly 10 times the rate of PETM.

TAKE ACTION: Help protect the world’s oceans!

So far, the ocean has absorbed more than 400 billion metric tons of these greenhouse gases. These dangerously high carbon dioxide levels create similar problems to the ones created during PETM, including an increased global temperature, lack of oxygen for ocean life and an increase in the ocean’s acidity.

If such high levels of carbon dioxide emissions caused mass extinction during PETM, you can’t help but wonder what 10 times that rate will do to today’s ocean life.

Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light, causing the rise in global temperature. The ocean acts as a buffer for greenhouse gases by absorbing a portion of CO2 emissions, which reduces the global temperature that would otherwise be affecting us directly.

But this overabundance of CO2 causes a host of problems. Firstly, CO2 raises ocean temperatures. Recent studies have revealed that during PETM, raised oceanic temperatures resulted in the slowing of global water currents. Oceanic currents exchange colder, deep water and warmer, surface water, regulating temperatures on land. They cause Europe’s relatively warm climate. But just like during PETM, the Atlantic Ocean’s currents are slowing by as much as 30 percent. If trends continue, Europe’s climate could change completely.

Moreover, too much CO2 deprives the oceans of oxygen. This creates “dead zones” that are absent of all marine life for thousands of years, posing a serious threat to biodiversity, as it did during PETM. Without oxygen, fish and other animals are forced to either leave the area or die.

PETM mirrors the current greenhouse gas crisis in yet another way: During PETM, more CO2 absorption by our oceans made the ocean more acidic, which caused mass extinction of calcium-dependent marine life, which absorb calcium from the ocean to grow their skeletons. Today’s calcium-dependent life, like corals and crustaceans, face similar threats as our oceans acidify.

Because of ocean acidification, the Great Barrier Reef’s growth has declined by 13 percent since 1990. Coral reefs are central to marine ecosystems. They are the forests of the oceans, and when they die, so do the fish and other animals that depend on them.

Fifty-five million years ago, PETM killed off up to 50 percent of marine species. Without regulation on greenhouse gases, our oceans face a similarly unhappy fate.

Stop ocean acidification now and tell the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.


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Photo Credit: NOAA, Ocean Explorer

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6:47AM PDT on May 9, 2013

That's terrible! Something needs to be done to clean up the oceans.

3:10AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

Let's do something to stop this vigorous cycle

6:15AM PST on Dec 24, 2010

This may be the first novel to address this topic and it is not only moving but the proceeds go to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation! Share this!
This is an engaging adventure story for the whole family, endorsed by The Cousteau Society. Royalties go to the Algalita Marine Research oundation and to help with their pioneering research relating to the growing plastic debris that is poisoning our oceans and ocean creatures.

"Last Song of the Whales" by Four Arrows — 262 pages - 5.25" x 8" Color softcover. ISBN: 978-0-9845552-5-3. Suggested retail price: $16.95. Released: Sept. 2010 by Savant Books and Publications, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

". . . engaging presentation . . ." —Francine Cousteau (President of the Cousteau Society)
". . . offers the profound insight . . ." —Capt. Charles Moore (Algalita Marine Research Foundation)"
". . . affects the heart as deeply as it does the mind." —Roger Wolfson (Television Writer, former U.S. Senate Staffer)
". . . takes the reader into a world of sensation and thought unlike any other." —Tim Dykman (Ocean Revolution)

This book is available from the Savant Books and Publications Bookstore at

and on
Reviews at

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Prophetic, November 11, 2010
Randall Eaton, Ph.D. - See all my reviews
This review is from: Last Song of the Whales (Pape

1:23AM PDT on Oct 31, 2010


3:54PM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

Sadly noted.

6:09PM PDT on Oct 23, 2010

David Attenborough knows more about the natural world than anyone - when he worries about something we need to take notice. this programme should be required viewing in all schools

12:49PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

Sir David Attenborough reveals the findings of one of the most ambitious scientific studies of our time - an investigation into what is happening to our oceans. He looks at whether it is too late to save their remarkable biodiversity. Horizon travels from the cold waters of the North Atlantic to the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef to meet the scientists who are transforming our understanding of this unique habitat. Attenborough explores some of the ways in which we are
affecting marine life - from over-fishing to the acidification of sea
water. The film also uncovers the disturbing story of how
shipping noise is deafening whales and dolphins, affecting their
survival in the future.

Please watch it & pass it along to increase awareness!

This is part one of four which can be found on YouTube....well worth watching. It's an education & our very survival on this planet depends upon it!
Beautiful Oceans at their best but unfortunately at their worst also! There is time...there is hope but we must act NOW!

10:27AM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

Protect the Oceans from Devastating Acidification
Your signature has been delivered to: EPA Administrator Jackson

5:12AM PDT on Oct 18, 2010

Teresa, You signed on October 14, 2010.
Your signature has been delivered to:
EPA Administrator Jackson

4:41AM PDT on Oct 18, 2010


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