Ocean Acidification Research Paper


What is ocean acidification? It is the ongoing decrease in the oceans pH levels. ​Ocean acidification reduces the amount of carbonate, which is a key building block in the sea. It is caused by an increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is hurting our environment and economy.

For generations humans have burned fossil fuels and tore down earth's forests. Around the world fossil fuels are used in cars, airplanes, power plants, and factories. In the ​Overview of Greenhouse Gases ​it states, “The main human activity that emits CO​2​ is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation, although certain industrial processes and land-use changes also emit CO​2..​ ” Deforestation also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Burning down forests is identical to burning fossil fuels, it releases carbon dioxide. Forests are important because a large number of plant life are known to be "carbon sinks'', taking in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. ​Overview of Greenhouse Gases​ says, “In the United States, since 1990, the management of forests and non-agricultural land has acted as a net sink of CO​2,​ which means that more CO​2​ is removed from the atmosphere, and stored in plants and trees,McMillian 1 McMillian 2 than is emitted.” Human activities have increased the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere which is decreasing the pH levels in oceans causing ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification has affected the organisms in the waters. One of the most impacted by the acidification is oyster farms. ​Sea Changes​ states “Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions had turned seawater in Willapa Bay along Washington’s coast so lethal that slippery young Pacific oysters stopped growing.” The conditions of the water have been killing the produce causing oyster farms to lose thousands, even millions of dollars. The oyster problem caused oyster farmers to move to Hawaii waters, almost a whole ocean away from Seattle. Oysters will continue to deplete in existence. As stated in the article ​Sea Changes,​ “It would take 30 to 50 years before the worst of it reached the surface.” Ocean acidification is killing oysters and stealing money.

Oysters are being killed at a fast rate. Ocean acidification is taking away the natural minerals. ​Sea Changes​ says “They were dying because the corrosive water forced the young animals to use too much energy.” The acidification is not allowing them to develop their shells correctly. Oysters use a form of calcium carbonate to grow their shells. Acidification is affecting the west coast more because of the way the currents flow. ​Sea Changes explained “Because of the way the ocean circulates, the corrosive water that surfaces off Washington, California and Oregon is the result of CO​2​ that McMillian 3 entered the sea decades earlier.” However, scientists are experimenting to find an answer. “Shellfish geneticists are working to breed new strains of oysters that are more resistant to low pH water,” stated in ​Sea Changes.​ If humans acted more on climate change, burned less fossil fuels, and stopped destroying forests they could save the oyster and other marine life. Human activity is one reason the earth is suffering.

In conclusion, ocean acidification has taken oysters and farmers lifes and money. Human activity like burning fossil fuels and deforestation caused an increase in greenhouse gases. The increase in carbon dioxide decreased the pH levels in the ocean destroying calcium carbonate minerals that oysters need to develop their shells. Without a proper shell oysters die, and millions of dollars are lost. Humans need to pay more attention to their impact on the atmosphere by burning less fossil fuels and stop tearing down our forests.

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