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We Need a National Plan to Save Sea Life and Curb Ocean Acidification

The world’s oceans are in trouble. Every day, 22 million tons of carbon dioxide from factories, cars, power plants and other human sources are absorbed by the world’s oceans.

The result? A frightening phenomenon that’s making seawater more acidic, spelling potential disaster for many marine animals, from plankton and coral up the food chain to sea stars, salmon, sea otters, whales — and ultimately people who rely on oceans for food.

The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a new national Endangered Oceans campaign to save our sea life from this unprecedented threat. The Center is calling on the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to produce a national action plan to tackle ocean acidification.

Sign their petition and help avert this disaster for our oceans and sea life.

Since the Industrial Revolution, oceans have become 30 percent more acidic because of the carbon pollution we’re pumping into the atmosphere. We’re already seeing the effects as coral reefs collapse, oyster beds disappear and tiny creatures that are important food sources get smaller and smaller.

Shell-forming species like corals, crabs, oysters and urchins are getting hit first because ocean acidification robs seawater of the compounds these creatures need to build shells and skeletons, impairing their development and, ultimately, their survival. If shellfish populations collapse, the animals that eat them will also suffer, with potentially devastating ripple effects throughout the ocean’s food web.

Two important planetary ecosystems, coral reefs and Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, are on the front lines of the acidification crisis.

Coral reefs critical to the protection of coastlines across tropical and subtropical parts of the world may disappear as the rate of erosion exceeds the rate at which corals can rebuild — with staggering repercussions for related ecosystems like mangrove and seagrass.

Meanwhile, in the Southern Ocean, marine snails could be eliminated. These Antarctic pteropods are an important staple in the diet of carnivorous zooplankton, North Pacific salmon, mackerel, herring, cod and baleen whales.

It’s clear that this crisis, left unchecked, could spin out of control with devastating effects on vast numbers of species, from small shell-building oysters and reef fish to crabs, whales and sea otters.

Like global warming, the acidification of our oceans is a problem that’s vast in scale and demands a rapid and ambitious response. Even though our oceans are absorbing roughly one ton of CO2 per person on Earth each year, almost nothing has been done to curb acidification.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s campaign to fight acidification is using the Clean Water Act to stop the pollution that’s causing it — greenhouse gas emissions — as well as to improve water-quality standards and pH monitoring.

We’re going to be part of the solution, and we need your help. Sign the petition to end the acidification of our oceans.

Learn more about the Endangered Oceans campaign, read an FAQ about ocean acidification and see profiles of affected wildlife and U.S. regions.

Related Stories:

Oceans on Acid: Oceans Worst in 300 Years

Oldest Living Thing on Earth Threatened by Climate Change

10 Marine Species on the Brink of Mass Extinction Due to Ocean Acidification


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Clown Fish photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Nemo's Great Uncle

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47 comments

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8:56PM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Thank you

4:55AM PST on Jan 11, 2013

It's important to do it step-by-step

2:47AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

There should be steps to help

8:17AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:07AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Mother Jones magazine had pictures of "artificial trees" looking like billboards to pull CO2 from air to store in pressure tanks near middle of first decade of 21st century. Enhanced Geosystems can sequester CO2 using it as hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid--as much CO2 as we will need to sequester. There is a solution if we will invest in it.

3:35PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Good to know that there are some dedicated people out there !

3:20PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thank you for the article. I'm not sure a national plan to save sea life will be sufficient. But we can try.

1:42AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thanks for the article.

6:24PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Very informative, I think part of the problem with enviromental and humanitarian issues is ignorance and apathy. So many people just don't seem to be aware of how bad things have got, so informing and educating as many as possible is a start. This is where social media and discussing these issues can make a difference.

3:04PM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

We need more than a National plan, we need a world wide plan.

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