Ocean Acidification Is Extremely Underestimated
December 4, 2019
HAARETZ — Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) made an accidental discovery while researching characteristics of the blood that had been right under our nose.
According to Prof. Ehud Pines from the Department of Chemistry and his team, ocean acidification is a clear and present danger to marine life, to the marine food chain and to animals that eat marine life (such as ourselves).
“We just didn’t realize exactly how important carbonic acid is in regulating the acidity of our blood — and of the oceans,” Prof. Pines said.
In the seas, carbonic acid is created when water and carbon dioxide mix. In our bodies, it is created when bicarbonate in our blood mixes with acid. Why has carbonic acid been totally ignored until now?
Because it is extremely unstable, so the thinking was that if a carbonic acid molecule blinks into existence and promptly blinks out again, we can ignore it. But this highly unstable acid is actually regulating the acidity of our blood — and may be killing ocean life.
Ocean acidity differs vastly on a local scale. But looking at the global average, the world’s oceans are about 25 percent more acidic than before the industrial revolution. Prof. Pines and his team demonstrated that ocean acidification studies and projections have failed to factor in a key element that could make it all happen much faster than is presently realized.
To sum up, the extra carbon dioxide we’re pouring into our air — emissions are not declining, they are still increasing — is also acidifying our oceans beyond what we had even realized, the BGU team inadvertently discovered.