An Obituary to the Oceans

by Dog mom on November 10, 2017 - 5:15pm

Ocean acidification is a dynamic, rapidly changing, and possible catastrophic phenomena of climate change. Weber illustrates the severity of ocean acidification in the seas of the western Arctic in their Toronto Star article, World’s first large-scale area of acidified water found in Arctic Ocean. Weber uses information and research from various climate experts including Wei-Jun Cai of the University of Delaware, and Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Acidity in this area of the Artic has increased two times faster than any other body of water that’s been measured (Weber, 2017). The acidification in the area is six times higher now, than what it was 20 years ago (Weber, 2017). Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are to blame for this increase, as open water becomes more acidic as it absorbs gas from the atmosphere (Weber, 2017).  Similarly, the rise in acidification can be related back to the disappearance of summer sea ice. With less ice cover, water is exposed to the CO2-rich atmosphere for a longer time period, providing more time to absorb the acidifying gas (Weber, 2017). Acidification has been shown to cause damage to ocean food-webs, and destroy life within oceans (Weber, 2017). Overall the article draws attention to the growing issue, and demonstrates that the occurrence of ocean acidification is growing, but does not provide guidance on how to stop it.

Upon reading the article we can recognize the risk associated with the issue. Risk can be identified when the behaviour of a system is known based on good data and the risk can be calculated with reasonable confidence (Mitchell, 2015). Based on the article, there is a lot of data reflecting the immediacy of the issue and the certainty of the issue worsening and progressing. Beyond lost biodiversity which the article explains, acidification will affect fisheries and aquaculture threatening food security for millions of people (Ocean Portal, 2016).

Furthermore, it seems as though there is nothing being done within industry, government, or society to try and stop it. Canadians have the highest per capita GHG emissions in the world, doubling the global average per person (Ge et. Al, 2014), meaning we are largely responsible for the growing levels of atmospheric CO2 and ice cover loss. Although, Canada has very weak GHG reduction policies. Projections based on new climate change policies predict Canada could make significant progress on emissions reductions but will still fall short of its 2030 target (Smith, 2017). The current carbon pricing and tax plans are regulatory and economic instruments and do not influence citizens enough. What Canada needs are more informational instruments and public outreach to influence Canadians in making significant change. These tools can help educate people on climate issues and put forth the relentlessness of the issues. Canadians need to make drastic changes in their lifestyle in order to reduce emissions before all of our oceans are acidified, devoid of life, and cause us major climate catastrophes.

Ge, M., Friedrich, J., & Damassa, T. (2014, November 25). 6 Graphs Explain the World’s Top 10 Emitters. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://wri.org/blog/2014/11/6-graphs-explain-world%E2%80%99s-top-10-emitters

Ocean Portal . (2016, November 29). Ocean Acidification. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification

Smith, M. (2017, April 21). Emissions down slightly, but Canada not yet on track to meet 2030 climate targets: report. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/emissions-down-slightly-but-canada-not-yet-on-track-to-meet-2030-climate-targets-report

Weber, B. (2017, March 15). World's first large-scale area of acidified water found in Arctic Ocean. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/03/15/worlds-first-large-scale-area-of-acidified-water-found-in-arctic-ocean.html