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Ocean Acidification: Overview

Ocean acidification threatens clownfish and their coral homesOcean acidification is a global environmental issue caused by the man-made release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is often called the "evil twin" to climate change, because both issues are rooted in carbon dioxide emissions. 

The oceans absorb almost 30 percent of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the rising amount of carbon dioxide emissions being created by human activity has surpassed what the oceans can healthfully absorb, changing ocean chemistry and making them more acidic.

The current rate of change in the ocean's pH is 100 times faster than any time in the last few hundred thousand years and is most likely unprecedented in the Earth’s history. This shift in the natural balance of the ocean’s chemistry will have major adverse effects on tropical as well as cold-water corals, and the loss of many coral species will negatively impact a variety of marine life and ocean-dependent economies, such as fishing and tourism.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Ocean acidification may have negative impacts for many other marine species, especially those that produce shells. In some cases, these impacts are already occurring, and they have the potential to disrupt entire ocean ecosystems and disrupt food webs.

The only truly effective way of combating ocean acidification and climate change is to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. If action is not taken now, ocean acidification may cause widespread disruption to marine ecosystems and a massive decline of corals within this century.

Oceana is working to reduce the cause and effects of ocean acidification by promoting government policies to cap CO2 emissions, eliminate offshore drilling, and by advocating for energy efficiency and alternative energy sources such as wind power and more.