WHAT is Ocean Acidification?

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Source Pew Foundation/ Jim Toomy

Ocean conservation is essential but sometimes difficult to understand. Pew joined forces with cartoonist Jim Toomey, the artist behind “Sherman’s Lagoon,” on 10 animated videos that explain the complicated concepts that guide efforts to protect our oceans.

Visual Glossary of Ocean Terminology – Cartoon crash course

#1  WHAT is Ocean Acidification

There’s a chemical change under way in our oceans. It’s called ocean acidification. As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’s becoming more acidic—eroding the shells of marine life like oysters, clams, and urchins, which are vital to the food web.

Scientists predict that ocean acidification could wipe out most coral reefs by the middle of this century, and it’s affecting other animals, too. The good news is that, if we reverse course, the ocean should regain its chemical balance. If not, well, the truth will be a lot scarier than fiction.

Nationally syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey, creator of Sherman’s Lagoon, has joined forces with The Pew Charitable Trusts to illustrate “ocean acidification” and other terms associated with our oceans.

*TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO*

Invisible force invades world, slowly dissolving residents! Sounds like science fiction. Actually, it’s science nonfiction – otherwise known as reality – and it’s
happening in our oceans right now. “It” is ocean acidification.

“Huh?”

The oceans absorbs about a third of the carbon dioxide that spews forth from our cars, power plants, factories and airplanes. That’s over 22 million tons of CO2 every day! But the ocean doesn’t just “absorb” all that CO2. There’s a chemical reaction at work here.

Through processes involving hydrogen ions and other science-y nonfiction words, the ocean is becoming more acidic, and that in turn is eroding the shells of vital marine species including clams, oysters, urchins, and pteropods.

Oh sure, I know what you’re thinking… “Who cares about a bunch of pteropods?” But these animals are part of the foundation of an enormous food web. And when little things change on a big scale, big changes are sure to follow.

The chemical change in our seawater is also having an effect on corals. In fact, scientists say that ocean acidification could wipe out most coral reefs by the middle of this century.

It’s affecting larger animals, too. For example, certain fish have a harder time detecting predators. And that’s just for starters.

The good news is that with less carbon pollution, the ocean should regain its chemical balance.

If not, the truth will be a lot scarier than fiction.

Pewtrusts.org/oceanacid

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January 31, 2017 |

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