As Carbon Dioxide Increases, Oceans Become More Acidic. The State of Washington Has Decided to Take Action.

The oceans have long acted as a sink for carbon emissions.  Now they are being asked to absorb more than they can handle.

The result is every increasing acidification.  Seawater is steadily becoming more corrosive.  Many coral reefs have already been destroyed and in many areas of the ocean the entire food chain is threatened.

The State of Washington is particularly concerned about growing ocean acidification because increasing acidity is a major threat to the state’s important shellfish industry.  Shellfish, especially oysters, are prevented from developing shells by an acidic environment.

The only long-term solution for acidification is for the world to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, but since this is clearly not going to happen overnight, Washington is attempting to “buy time” by slowing the process.

Here is how the plan works:

The first step will be to monitor ocean acidity with greater breadth and accuracy and to create an acidity budget — an assessment of just how much acidity is contributed by whom. Next it will seek to reduce carbon pollution from land-based sources, including agricultural and urban runoff. There will also be practical, site-based steps to offset carbon, like planting sea grasses (which themselves are endangered globally) in shellfish hatcheries. And there will be an extensive campaign to educate the public, business leaders and policy makers about the risks of increasing acidification.

The state has set aside $3.3 million to begin the effort (much more will be required down the line), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will help with its laboratories.

The important thing about the program is that it is a start. Waiting for the world to change is not a practical strategy.

Reference:  New York Times