Oceana Presents Ocean Acidification Message at COP-15 | Oceana

Oceana Presents Ocean Acidification Message at COP-15

Press Release Date: December 10, 2009

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

On the opening day of the international climate summit and negotiations in Copenhagen, Oceana sponsored an event entitled “Ocean Acidification: Impacts of Carbon Dioxide on Marine Ecosystems” at the U.S. State Department center.  The event was designed to highlight the impacts of ocean acidification around the globe and present solutions for addressing this growing problem. 

Oceana’s Dr. Jeff Short joined Dr. Richard Feely of NOAA and film-maker Sven Huseby to present the science of ocean acidification, the impacts it would have on humanity, and what can be done to address this growing problem.  The event dovetailed with remarks that emphasized ocean acidification from Secretary Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the chief scientific advisory body on climate change, to bring that critical message to the fore on the climate summit’s first day.

“CO2 is making our oceans more acidic, which threatens coral reefs and marine food webs and ecosystems that millions of people worldwide rely on, yet has gone almost unrecognized in the climate negotiations,” said Dr. Jeffrey Short of Oceana.  “Along with warming, ocean acidification will have enormous impacts on all of our lives if we don’t change course soon.”   

Carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere has acidified the world’s oceans by reacting with seawater to form carbonic acid. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from humankind’s industrial and agricultural activities has resulted in an oceanic uptake of about 530 billion tons of CO2.

Unless curtailed, acidification may drastically alter marine food webs by destroying tropical coral reefs and threatening species that play critical ecological roles. Because the only demonstrated practical method for reducing acidification is reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, ocean acidification provides one more reason for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Following the event, Dr. Richard Feely of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Dr. Jeff Short of Oceana participated in an online chat on the impact of ocean acidification.  The transcript of that discussion is available at: http://www.america.gov/st/webchat-english/2009/December/20091207154753xjsnommis0.7001851.html