Oceans Acidifying at Fastest Rate in 300M Years. Should We Worry?

"The world's oceans are turning acidic at what's likely the fastest pace in 300 million years. Scientists tend to think this is a troubling development. But just how worried should we be, exactly?"

"It's a question marine experts have been racing to get a handle on in recent years. Here's what they do know: As humans keep burning fossil fuels, the oceans are absorbing more and more carbon-dioxide. That staves off (some) global warming, but it also makes the seas more acidic — acidity levels have risen 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

There's reason for alarm here: Studies have found that acidifying seawater can chew away at coral reefs and kill oysters by making it harder to form protective shells. The process can also interfere with the food supply for key species like Alaska's salmon.

But it's not fully clear what this all adds up to. What happens if the oceans keep acidifying and water temperatures keep rising as a result of global warming? Are those stresses going to wipe out coral reefs and fisheries around the globe, costing us trillions (as one paper suggested)? Or is there a chance that some ecosystems might remain surprisingly resilient?"

Brad Plumer reports for the Washington Post August 31, 2013.

Source: Wash Post, 09/02/2013