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Ocean Acidification Times Twenty

This morning, I wrote about the unfortunate delay of a study on ocean acidification that was mandated in 2007 legislation – but is only being initiated by the Bush Administration this month. I noted that a year’s delay means a great deal, given the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to a parallel rise in the acidity of the oceans’ waters. Carbon dioxide in the air is absorbed by the oceans, and converted into carbonic acid, which interferes with the ability of marine animals to form skeletons and shells of calcium carbonate.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Chicago, published this month, the problem of ocean acidification may be much worse than anticipated so far. The study, which sampled waters around the Pacific island of Tatoosh over the last eight years, found an increase of acidity more than 20 times what had been predicted by climatologists.

A new documentary on the crisis of ocean acidification will be released early in 2009. Its title: A Sea Change. A trailer for the film:

My favorite line from the movie is delivered by Dr. Edward Miles from the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs, presenting research on the ocean acidification crisis: “Are we screwed? Yeah, to a considerable extent.”

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