One of the well-known consequences, and hoped for respites, from the build-up of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is its absorption in our oceans, likely amounting to half of the CO2 we produce. The world’s oceans hold a stock of carbon far greater than the atmosphere. But it turns out human fossil-fuel burning has already resulted in a significant change in ocean chemistry – acidification, according to this New Scientist article based on a new UK Royal Society report (PDF of full report). CO2 releases as large as we now produce will reduce ocean pH from 8.2 to 7.7 by the year 2100, a rate a hundred times the rate of change for the previous million years.
The report was produced by an international group of scientists, led by John Raven of the University of Dundee. It concludes significant damage will be done to many plankton species, corals, and many ocean species higher up the food chain; damage that would be irreversible likely for thousands of years. Action is needed NOW on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, before the worst consequences become inevitable.