Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution society has burned fossil fuels for energy. The oceans have quietly been absorbing about one-quarter of the CO2 emissions we release into the atmosphere every year since then. This has tempered the warming of the world but at a great cost. The CO2 absorbed by the ocean has changed the chemistry of the seawater, making it acidic. To date, it has been largely unnoticed as the effects are underwater and gradual in nature.
However, scientists have documented that this change in acidity is affecting life in the ocean, from larval forms of sea life to any creature that has a calcium-based shell. It is compromising coral reefs, ocean ecosystems, and entire food chains. When coral reefs and shellfish die, for example, ecosystems and fisheries will be impacted, as will the world’s food supply. Locally, native clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters are a few of the more recognizable creatures and fisheries that will be affected.