Tag Archives: ocean acidification

What Is Ocean Acidification and Why Should You Care?

Anyone paying attention at all these days has heard of global warming or climate change. It’s a big deal to some, complete nonsense to those who don’t believe in it. Climate change is only a part of the problem, however. Ocean acidification is a related problem, and quite serious. So what is it? Why does it matter?

Ocean acidification is the result of the ocean absorbing carbon dioxide.  It does this normally, but as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases, so does the rate at which the ocean absorbs it. This is not a good thing overall, although photosynthetic algae and sea grasses may do better.

But shelled sea life suffers tremendously. More acidic sea water slowly dissolves their shells. This can impact the entire food chain, as many creatures eat shelled sea life, and of course many people do as well. Ocean acidification may result in the failure and erosion of coral reefs as well, with all that implies for the creatures which have evolved to live in them, whether or not they have a shell.

The plastic pollution in the ocean also increases the acidity.

It often amazes me how little ocean acidification is discussed when people talk about carbon emissions. It’s one of the most important impacts to consider. The oceans are big, but there’s only so much they can take, and this is something we can measure. The current increase in acidity is 30%, with the potential for the ocean to become more acidic than it has been in 20 million years.

A billion people worldwide rely on the ocean as a source of protein. It’s not a small matter to find a replacement for that. The impact of acidification may have been seen already in the Pacific coast regions of North America, where shellfish beds have been failing. The pteropods which are a basic food source for many fish and whales are decreasing in number. This isn’t just a guess. We can see it happening.

Being Eco Friendly Despite the Disapproval of Others

There are many things that makes being eco friendly challenging for individuals. The lack of support they often face can be a big one.

This is something my husband and I deal with at times. His parents aren’t precisely fans of the environmental movement, although they’re very good about recycling. But they also make disparaging remarks about environmentalism.

Sometimes what it takes is showing how much more effective being eco friendly can be. They weren’t too sure about our choice to cloth diaper our youngest, but they are certainly enthusiastic about the likelihood that she will potty train at a younger age than the other two. They can get behind that idea easily.

In many cases, that’s what it takes. Don’t just phrase it all as being better for the environment when people say they don’t see the point. Show them how it benefits you or them personally. Most people can get behind that.

It doesn’t always work, of course. The value presented has to be one that appeals to them more than the convenience or comfort of doing things the usual way.

It’s also a simple fact of life that not everyone will approve of every single thing you do. It doesn’t matter what you do. Someone is going to find something to disagree with or disapprove of.

If you’re trying to bring people over to your way of thinking when they disapprove of your environmental beliefs, don’t start a ton of arguments with them unless that’s what works with that person. Many people do better with being given the information regularly until it works its way into their thoughts as their own idea. Pushing isn’t always the solution.

That can be hard to face, especially considering the urgency of many environmental topics. But if it works better than shouting at each other, you use the tools you have to.

The topic of global warming and climate change meets disparagement from many people, for example. Even if they agree that the planet is overall warming, many say it’s not human caused and that we’ll cope with what happens. The very real human costs aren’t real enough to them to make a difference, and the future is too vague.

In this area I often change the focus. See what they know about ocean acidification, pollution in general, the problems farmland has due to overuse of fertilizers, the problems with pesticides, and so forth. These are topics you can get into that may be concrete enough to get some agreement that action in that area is warranted. It’s better than no action.

Sometimes you just have to face that some people will never change. For some it seems like practically a matter of personal honor to disregard the environment. They’re not going to change their minds easily and they may be vocal about their refusals.

You may not be able to change everyone’s mind about even the simplest of environmentally friendly choices, but you can try to work with people to help them see where they are willing to change.