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Ocean acidification will soon be irreversible, costing $400bn

New modelling shows we will soon pass the Ph point of no return in the world’s seas, with devastating impacts on ecosystems and economies. 

Published by Back to Blue, a new report Ocean Acidification: Time for Action calls on international government action to step up in a bid to prevent the worst case scenario from unfolding. It also criticises the majority of countries for ‘ocean blindness’, and failing to factor this issue into climate change adaptation and mitigation plans. 

Currently, just 12 countries have in the world have ocean acidification action plans, yet if the problem is allowed to persist and become worse, some $400billion could be wiped off the global economy. 

As oceans are allowed to become more acidic, a direct result of absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, the effect on marine life is unforgiving, including the creation of so-called ‘dead zones’, and the destruction of finely balanced ecosystems. In turn, this is a major threat to the survival of coastal communities, many of which have developed due to the abundant riches found under water, not least fisheries, meaning the livelihoods of vast swathes of people now hangs in the balance.

According to data, policy advice and research institution the OECD, globally some three billion people rely on oceans for their income. In the U.S., for example, almost half the national GDP is tied to counties that are coastal adjacent, and more than three-million jobs, or one-in-45, are directly dependent on resources within the sea or Great Lakes. 

Governments are now being asked to do more to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions, invest in research to advance our understanding of climate-ocean impacts and reduce local pollution known to exacerbate ocean acidification (OA). The protection of coastal environments and communities from climate-ocean impact, increasing public awareness, and sustaining international and multi-governmental support for reversing ocean pollution should also be prioritised. 

‘OA action plans have the power to elevate the profile of OA and focus minds on addressing it,’ said Steve Widdicombe, director of science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the UK and co-chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). ‘An action plan signifies that the government formally recognises OA as a critical environmental challenge. And a formal plan commits the government to taking concrete actions to combat OA and support those actions with appropriate resources.’

You can read the full report here.

More on oceans:

Wetland conservation most effective ocean-based climate action

UK fish stock audit reveals ‘brink of collapse’

Ocean 14 Capital Fund invests in alternative seabed harvesting

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