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Impact of Ocean Acidification on Fisheries and Ecosystems, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Abstract

Today, the chemistry of the oceans is changing and the process as carbon dioxide absorbed in the water of the oceans causes them to become more acid. The phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, has just begun to be recognized as an important threat to marine ecosystems and to human life. As scientists learn more about it, the potential harm that ocean acidification can cause becomes more and more apparent due to the complex links between Ocean life and life on Earth. The effects of Ocean acidification on fisheries and ecosystems most clearly impacts human life, as it causes negative effects on health, economy and lifestyle. Once the problem properly researched, effective measures must be taken to reduce ocean acidification and thus, prevent its impact on ecosystems and human life.

Key terms: ocean acidification, fisheries, climate change, ecosystems.

Introduction

In an historic context, the oceans have been instrumental in reducing the effects of global warming. This being by their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.  We now find ourselves in a situation where the basic chemistry of the ocean is changing and this may have dire consequences for both human and marine life.  The process is based upon the absorption of the Carbon dioxide into the ocean and the interaction with the seawater forms carbonic acid or ocean acidification (Abbasi and Abbasi 22).  If this is carried out to a greater excess the seawater becomes too acidic and results in adverse consequences to animal and marine life.

The two most often cited effects of ocean acidification are the impact on coral reefs and on fisheries (National Research Council  82), because of the potential threat to life as we know it. Species of fish which are important for consumption are being endangered by the changing of the ocean chemistry, apart from having been already affected by other types of pollution. This further leads to economic problems and to health issues, as well as a dramatic change in human diet because of the reduction and in long term, even disappearance, of species which are important for consumptions such as shellfish. The dramatic consequences upon life as we know it cannot be denied any longer. Scientific research has already began to tackle the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystems and are trying to implement changes that might be able to reduce the impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems and human life. However, the process of assessing impact, finding a sustainable solution and implementing it at a global level is painfully slow.  The answers relate to reducing our carbon footprint and reducing emissions into the atmosphere.  While the effects of ocean acidification over ecosystems and fisheries cannot be undone, finding a solution to this problem and implementing it effectively may reduce its impact on the oceanic life.

Literature Review

Ocean acidification has been called global warming’s evil twin (Bowermaster 13) due to the dreadful consequences of this phenomenon on life on Earth.  It is during the last ten years that scientists have discovered that the chemical composition of the sea is changing.  The sea is increasing in acidity and this poses a threat to marine life, humans and others who have a dependency upon the sea.  This change is happening at an accelerate rate and scientists estimate that the oceans have absorbed 530 billion tonnes of CO2 that results in an overall 30% increase of acidity in our oceans.  Before the actual burning of fossil fuels the balance had been maintained on Earth for more than 20 million years. Scientists estimate that at current levels of global warming, the seas will double the current intake by 2100.  Further projections indicate that the seas around the Antarctic will reach corrosive levels by 2150. This will fundamentally change the chemical composition of our oceans. (Natural Resurces Defense Council 88).

One of the most important concerns refers to the impact of ocean acidification upon the very sensitive marine ecosystems. In the introduction to their book, editors Jean-Pierre Gattusso and Lina Hansson mention the impact of ocean acidification on coral reefs, which are decolouring as a result of the disappearance of dinoflagellates (V). According to the authors, the ongoing ocean acidification can only affect even further the coral reefs. Another major threat is posed to human directly by the Coral reefs, and particularly, the Great Barrier Reef, are unique systems and a treasure that needs to be preserved as best as possible but they are among the most sensitive organisms to ocean acidification and they are rapidly destroyed by pollution and the decrease of the  ocean water’s PH.

There is little information concerning the impact of ocean acidification on fisheries, which is a real problem since one-sixth of the entire Earth population is relying on fish as a main source of proteins (Stern 86). Concern over the disappearance of certain species of fish, and the reduction of others, became more serious after the discovery of this phenomenon because it is estimated that ocean acidification will have great negative impact on the shellfish, an extremely important species for human consumption (National Research Council 88).  This occurs because increased ocean acidification makes it harder, or even impossible for shellfish to form their shells, and their exoskeletons, which have a calcium carbonate composition (Stern 86).  Also, plankton and snails, which are important for other species, are being affected by this phenomenon at yet unknown rates.

The economic effect of ocean acidification is also under evaluation at this moment. According to the National Research Council (89), ocean acidification may cause important loses and the redistribution of benefits for both commercial and recreational fisheries.  Also, the council estimates that, even though the contribution of fisheries to the overall economy is rather small, it will have local and regional impact as well as social consequences. Moreover, the future of fisheries will depend upon the fisheries’ capability to change and to adapt (ibid.).

The Issues of Ocean Acidification

The damage of ocean acidification is expected to be widespread and includes the destruction of shellfish, coral reefs and a wide disruptive effect on the oceans eco system. Saudi Arabia has seen climate change impact it in a number of significant ways. This has included erosion of its coral reefs but there is some hope that this might recover – the future recovery of coral reefs will be based upon their ability to adapt to changes in water temperatures (Baker 741).   Other areas of concern have been in the increase of desertification. Climate change will mean a reduction in rainfall and rising temperatures proposing a serious water shortage in the area.  Certain countries in the Middle East are already showing significant reductions in annual rainfall to present mean values. (Prudhomme 17).

Climate is essentially the weather pattern for a specific area. The concept of climate change refers to variations in the average state of the climate over time. The problem relative to climate change is the result of the concentration of greenhouse gases i.e. CO2 CO4 N20 and CFC’s. These trap infra-red radiation inside the Earth’s atmosphere and create an anomaly that has been termed ‘the greenhouse effect’. This is a natural phenomenon within the normal bounds of nature.  Historically nature tends to balance these conditions but mankind has disturbed this fragile balance by burning fossil fuels, deforestation and use of industrial processes that create greenhouse gases. This imbalance gives ride to increased infrared radiation, changes in the air temperature, variation to precipitation patterns, changing the sea levels and melting of glaciers.  The long term ramifications of climate change have yet to be measured or determined but are seeing marked changes to the expected ‘norms’ of our climate patterns today.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Leading Scientists believe that it is not too late to reverse these harmful effects on our oceans but only if decisive and immediate remedial action steps are taken. Ultimately the consequences are the dangerous and harmful condition to the health of our planet. Despite efforts at recent climate change conferences in Kyoto and Copenhagen it is questionable whether world governments accept the huge responsibility they have in this area.  Whilst some solid progress has been made it falls well short of the targets to make the required recovery.  Al Gore and other important political personalities have worked tirelessly in raising public and government awareness to this matter.

In many regards we have the issue of the emerging economies like China, India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa that still have huge dependencies on fossil fuels.  They will continue to have huge damaging consequences to our climate if they do not make cuts in their consumption of fossil fuels. This is a difficult sell for the advanced nations of Earth and they must learn to lead by example in terms of their own policies if they are to influence change in the emerging economies.  The real issue here is that of time.  We cannot afford to debate these issues for another decade as we require immediate cutbacks now if we are to avert the disastrous consequences of the future.

Impact to fisheries

The damage to fisheries could be huge not only in the depletion of the stocks in the ocean but killing the very environment that will sustain the growth of future generations and stocks of fish in our oceans.  Fish and other seafood form an integral and important part of our healthy diet.  Equally, many nations throughout the world rely upon fish as the main source of protein.  The damage as such would be enormous.

Other social impacts

China is considered to have the world’s largest carbon footprint. In Copenhagen they stated that they are committed to decisive action – China stated that it would reduce its emissions by up to 45% by 2020 by comparison with 2005 statistics (Watts). Despite this being a step in the right direction, by the Chinese Government, the US and Europe felt that the cuts did not go far enough. The negotiators from the US and Europe indicated that anything less than 50% reduction would not go far enough.

India stated that it proposed target reduction of up to 24% by 2020.  Whilst a step in the right direction, it falls a long way short of what is needed. (Ramesh). Commentators stated that both China and India were at least taking positive moves in the right direction and that Europe needs to improve its overall performance levels in order to make a valid contribution to global efforts. There is an indication that developing countries are making a concerted effort to comply with reducing their carbon footprint and as such the developed countries need to manage their unstinting addiction to carbon based fuels. (Ramesh)

Financial Implication

It is virtually impossible to determine the financial consequences in terms of both the destruction of our oceans and climate.  It would certainly have far greater impact than anything that we have experienced to date.  We are really sailing uncharted seas here and this is perhaps best approached by looking at the current attitudes of world governments in terms of addressing the issues.  This position is best summed up from in December 2009 at the World Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark the Government of Saudi Arabia was asked to rethink its position on climate change.  Saudi Arabia has been historically negative to climate change initiatives primarily for the fear of losing its oil trade (Okpi).  The developing countries are concerned that the intransigence of the Saudi Government is threatening the survival of the developing nations.  The Saudi Government tends to agree in principle on the implications of climate change but takes little affirmative action towards development of a strategy that will contribute towards reduction of CO2 emissions in that country.  They constantly refer to the USA and China as being the dominant world polluters and cause of impacting climate change. It is these two countries that should be leading by example in the quest for change.

The argument at Copenhagen is that it is the responsibility of all nations to reduce CO2 emissions and every nation must do its part including Saudi Arabia. After all, the goal is the preservation of the planet and if we destroy our environment there will be no need for oil production in the future. Regrettably the very essence of the argument has been largely ignored by the main protagonists.

The link to climate change and global warming

Climate change is a global issue and as such, it has an impact upon all nations on the planet.  Each nation has a specific responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and play an active part in the prevention of global warming. Climate Change will result in higher temperatures and this means increased Ultra Violet Radiation (UV-B) content.  This will have a direct result in the degradation of plastics and woods that are subject to increased UV levels.  This climate is essentially the weather pattern for a specific area. The concept of climate change refers to variations in the average state of the climate over time. The problem relative to climate change is the result of the concentration of greenhouse gases i.e. CO2 CO4 N20 and CFC’s. These trap infrared radiation inside the Earth’s atmosphere and create an anomaly that has been termed ‘the greenhouse effect’. This is a natural phenomenon within the normal bounds of nature.  Historically nature tends to balance these conditions but mankind has disturbed this fragile balance by burning fossil fuels, deforestation and use of industrial processes that create greenhouse gases. This imbalance gives ride to increased infra-red radiation, changes in the air temperature, variation to precipitation patterns, changing the sea levels and melting of glaciers.  The long term ramifications of climate change have yet to be measured or determined but are seeing marked changes to the expected ‘norms’ of our climate patterns today may result in the need for deployment of alternate more expensive durable materials.

One of the main issues with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is that it can take up to 100 years in order to disperse. Hence if we stopped CO2 emissions today we could not determine the impact for many decades to come. The European Commission (EU) hopes that by reducing emissions, on average, by -30% by 2020 it will provide a 50/50 chance of reducing global temperatures by 2 degrees C.  It is not too late to take action to prevent global warming and climate change but the reality is that we are now into damage control or damage limitation and The Table to the right illustrates the largest emitter’s or producers of CO2 emissions.  The USA and China being the largest contributors. In context during 2003 Saudi Arabia was contributing less than 10% of the output produced by the USA .

One of the global concerns of climate change relates to the potential of health challenges that might result from such diseases like Malaria moving into more densely populated areas like that of the Mediterranean Countries and the Middle East. The migration of these parasites may result in them becoming more resistant to existing drugs. Such changes have the potential of putting large populations at risk, our climate will be very different in just 20 years from now. (Relman).

Learning points from ocean acidification

The important point is that we never stop learning. At this point we have amassed sufficient data and evidence to support that a major change is taking place in the chemical composition of  our oceans.  Specific attention has been paid to how acidification might both damage and destroy the coral reefs and the supporting marine environment.  The impact of such destruction would be virtually irreversible.  One of the biggest studies relates to that of the great barrier reef in Australia and this perhaps signals the greatest warning to climate and ocean changes. Research sampling over the coral reefs has shown a marked reduction in the polyps that are the building blocks of the reefs. This has caused a reduction in growth of around 13% since 1990. (Biello).

CO2 Emissions

Figure 1 | CO2 Emissions ( source: Relman)

It has been established that since 1990 the coral reef has been diminishing in both size and quality.  Data analysis indicates a decline in calcification that has been taking place over the last 400 years, potentially reflected in increased acidity in the ocean and the consequences of progressive climate change.

Recommendations for Sustainable Solutions

Is it too late?  Remedial action steps required

The links of ocean acidification are direct to those of climate change and the need to cut CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.  It is not too late to start reversing the trend but we are reaching that ‘tipping point’ where it will revert from taking corrective measures to that of damage limitation.  Various international governmental climate control conferences have made a start on remedial action steps but the actions taken are not in line with what is required if we are to avoid damage limitation. Over 91 countries had submitted programs of emission reduction plans at the Copenhagen accord.  This had exceeded expectations and provided a renewed sense of optimism towards progress (Carbon Finance)

UNFCC (United Nations Action Committee on climate change) issued the following table, based on output from the Copenhagen talks, on climate change emission reduction targets from Bangkok

Quantified economy wide emissions targets for 2020
Country Emission reduction in 2020 Base Year
Australia -5% up to -25% 2000
Belarus -5% to -10% 1990
Canada -17% 2005
Croatia -5% 1990
Iceland -30% 1990
Japan -25% 1990
Kazakhstan -15% 1992
Liechtenstein -20% 1990
Monaco -30% 1990
New Zealand -30 to -40% 1990
Norway -40% 1990
Russian Federation -15 to -25% 1990
Switzerland -20 to -30% 1990
Ukraine -20% 1990
USA -30% =2025

-42% = 2030

-83% =2050

 

Source : http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php  (UNFCC)

Cause and Effect Analysis

The impact of change requirements for each of the different Governments throughout the world is both challenging and complex.  The end goal may well be our very survival as a species on this planet but we are entering into an area of uncharted territory.  The suspicion is that we are already at the ‘tipping point’ and we will be unable to make sufficient changes in order to prevent serious damage to our climate and eco system in the future.  As such we may well have already entered the damage control phase.  Some of the constraints are as follows:-

The Emerging industrial nations like China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia are unable to revert to clean energy policies and meet the targets required.  They are unlikely to be receptive to the emission reduction targets put forward

Many countries will not be able to find the capital funding required in order to switch to that of alternate energy policies

A partial result will not achieve the objective of trying to reverse climate control consequences and that of global warming.  Drastic action is required now if we are not to slip seriously into damage limitation.  Equally, there is a third phase if we continue along the existing path without further reductions in CO2 emissions.  The distinct possibility of species extinction living on a planet that cannot sustain our future survival.  This may be hundreds of years away but this is an insignificant time period in the millions of years of evolution on our planet

We could enter a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby our failure to act expediently may result in series of natural disasters that could further accelerate the process. For example increased volcanic activity and the possibility of a ‘super volcano’ eruption.  We have already witnessed a significant increase in large volcanic eruptions throughout the world.

Overcoming the problem

We are moving in the right direction with international conferences and taking steps in emission reduction.  The problem is that we are not moving quickly enough or meeting the targets ton reverse the ocean acidification and changes to our climate.  Although our rate of increased technology is moving at a rapid pace it is unlikely to offer a solution in the timeframe required.  It is somewhat impossible to enforce or police this situation over different countries for compliance.  It is ironic that the gravity of this situation is beyond any wars between countries and that the problem faces all of mankind as a species.  The recent events of civil war in Syria and other conflicts throughout the world leave little hope for success if left in the hands of corrupt Governments and politicians.  The United Nations has equally proven that it has little power or authority when it comes to stepping up to the really big decisions.  In many senses we have a philosophy of ‘pay it forward’ and hope that the worst does not happen.  Although nature has a remarkable sense of rebalancing adverse conditions  our scientific research suggests that this is not now the case.  We are heading into uncharted territory and the scientific predictions look extremely pessimistic for the future.  Hurricane Katrina may be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new types of deadly hurricanes of the future.  We may experience higher magnitude earthquakes than ever experienced before,  increased levels of volcanic activity adding to the CO2 impact.  The oceans may cease to support coral reefs and many species of marine life. This may well add to our world food shortage and create a famine in different parts of the world.

Coral Conservation Planning

It is now a scientific fact that climate change is happening at an unprecedented rate and this will have a profound effect on the multiple levels of biological organizations. Biologists have already identified a number of instances whereby there has been  a rapid response to climate change e.g. mustard fields ( Brassica Rapa), and common cordgrass ( Spartina Anglica) used for the control of erosion. This will equally have a profound impact on our great coral reefs throughout the world.

In Saudi Arabia 60% of the population live along the coastal areas, particularly that of the Red Sea Coast. This has become the focal point for construction and subsequently has seen an increase in the level of seaborne pollution taking place. We are now faced with a situation where sewage, toxic materials and other pollutants are seriously damaging the coral reefs. Climate change may well accelerate this process resulting in increased sea levels and the raising of sea temperatures ultimately destroying the coral reefs. This in turn would then result in increased sedimentation of enclosed seas (Wilkinson).  Saudi Arabia needs to consider how clean energy might replace the non-renewable petrochemical industry in the future.  One concept might be in the harvesting of solar energy and exporting the electricity to its neighbours. There will need to be a comprehensive strategy in order to address this. In the interim the world demand for consumption of oil is distracting the country from taking real affirmative action against the future consequences of climate change.

Special conservation zones have been set up around important coral reefs throughout the world. However, it is unlikely that these initiatives will protect them from rising sea temperatures and the impact of global warming.  There have been special marine protection zones established that are hoped to benefit both fisheries and coral reef protection.  It is unlikely however that such actions will offer any protection from the threat of global warming.  (Science Daily).  The coral reefs are being degraded throughout the world owing to a number of different threats, most of these are manageable apart from that of global warming, ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures.  Scientists have discovered that it only takes a rise in temperature of a few degrees to kill of the polyps in coral reefs, thus destroying the reef constructors. (Science Daily).

Ocean conservation measures

It has been stated that some 3.3 million tonnes of coral is removed from the oceans every year in order to be placed in aquariums and used in jewelry and in worst cases just as filler in road building materials.  This at a time when the world’s coral reefs are under extreme threat.  If these resources are to be sustained there needs to be greater awareness by the very people that are harvesting these materials from the Oceans.  The seafood industry is perhaps one industry that has been responsible and a force for good in this regard.  The world is dependent upon fish as a source of nutritional food.  Statistics indicate that of all the fish we consume one in four is raised on a fish farm.  This type of business being termed aquaculture.  This approach to raising fish for domestic consumption is considered very expensive as compared to wild fish caught in the seas and oceans.  Not all of the Fish farms are being responsible in terms of ocean pollution. The David Suzuki foundation conducted an investigation into an open net cage fish form of pollution.  These being teachers that are allowed to float in the ocean, where the fish are raised and farmed.  It was found that these generate a launch amount of pollution owing to the fish excrement in a confined area.  In addition, it was discovered that there is a build-up of sedimentary deposits of surplus food hitting the seabed.  This type of pollution was placed into two categories: 1. Organic pollution, and 2. Chemical pollution.

The main subject under review was that of salmon farms in BC, Canada.  Organic pollution arose from both the fish excrement and the surplus feed generated on the seabed.  Research demonstrated that as much as 50% of each of uneaten dried feed can end up on the seabed.  In addition, pollution also occurred fish mortalities that were allowed to rot on the seabed.  Certain fish forms.  Also let that go to the fish on-site and disposed of the waste directly into the fish cages and subsequently adding more pollution into the seabed.  Close inspection of the cages revealed that organic matter also builds upon the net cages and columns.  The results of this pollution were seen to impact the seabed from as far away as up to 50 m from the cages.

Chemical pollution at the fish bombs was the result of usage of the many chemicals to support the fish form.  Examples of the type of chemicals used included:

  • antibiotics and drugs fed to the fish;
  • paint used on the net cages and columns;
  • antifouling paints, containing copper and zinc, together with use of disinfectants.

There have also been incidents in China, where the fish farms have been ill in rivers next to industrial and agricultural land.  Chemicals used to spray crops on land have seeped into the water by drainage systems.  Untreated human waste has been disposed of in the rivers upstream of the fish farms.  Toxic chemicals released from manufacturing plants upstream of the fish farms have contaminated the fish farms with levels of mercury and other serious toxic chemicals.  A lot of the fish in China is not only consumed on a domestic basis, but also exported worldwide. The high increases of copper and zinc in antifouling paints, not only impacts the fish in the fish farms.

Some fish farms however have promoted the concept of aquaculture in a more responsible and eco-friendly manner. The problem resides with the fish farm management and the lack of standards, controls, and enforcement to prevent pollution.  Poor conditions like those in China illustrate the expense of baguette demonstration:

  • $US hundred 20 million lost to bacterial diseases;
  • $420 million lost in shrimp disease.

Federal regulators in the USA are extending from fishing to the open sea, as we continue to satisfy our appetites for less expensive shrimp, salmon and snapper.  A recent example is that of a facility operating from Puerto Rico in the Gulf of Mexico with a 62 foot diameter ocean-based aqua pod.  The huge cages or submersed in order to resist damage from hurricanes.  Fishermen on commercial vessels have indicated that fish farmed in this manner will significantly undercut the price of fish, and ultimately put them out of business.  The counterargument is that aquaculture creates jobs and helps the economy.  Others point to foreign imports from China in particular patient Fish containing carcinogenic chemicals. The latest move towards open sea fish farming is attracting a number of entrepreneurial businessmen.  Brian O’Hanlon on is one such person, who started his business in 2007.  He recognized the need to provide a new source of healthy omega three fish.  He identified the Cabia is being such a species currently not used in many restaurants or fish resellers.  His firm opened ‘Blue Sea Farms’ and  hopes to fill this gap in the market, thereby selling  this quality fish at a premium price.

The cost of the fish will be very high because of the high maintenance costs i.e., divers need to be employed to feed the fish, the enclosures are very expensive and in need of regular maintenance.  Nevertheless, the technology has improved and it  is now felt that this represents the future in commercial fishing.  It is acknowledged that by doing this type of fishing, offshore and in deeper waters reduces the risk of pollution, and generally improve the health and quality of the fish being raised.  At this point in time, offshore ocean fishing is just a fledgling industry.  Advantage against pollution, is that the waves and currents are constantly moving.  So there is no room for build-up of bacterial contamination.

The concept of ocean trawling involving the dragging a large net along the seabed to dredge up bottom dwelling fish, can create massive ecological damage.  Studies have been carried out off the southern coast of California and the results of been astounding.  The trawlers are killing off the many coral reefs, the natural feeding grounds for many species of fish.  This destruction is creating a wide degree of pollution. The result of all of this is that trawling, on a worldwide basis, is both endangering our marine environment and potentially killing off the feeding habitats of the fish.  Without ceasing this practice and allowing nature to replenish the environment and fish stocks eventually offers us a very bleak alternative to the future of commercial fishing.  The problems of this have not gone unnoticed, and many governments are now collaborating in trying to regulate this process. The other aspect is that of over fishing and the reduction of fish stocks by commercial trawling vessels.

There are many other forms of offshore ocean fishing in these include lung lining (dragging a long line 80 talks behind a boat), purse seining, a form of net fishing for catching schools of fish, gill netting, and catching fish by trapping the gills and nets.  the main objection to these ultimate types of fishing is the lack of regulation concerning waste and destruction of the non target species.  It is estimated that long line by the Japanese fleet kills in excess of 30,000  blue sharks  per annum.  The Hawks from one-liners.  Also killed countless seabirds, including that of petrels shearwaters, and albatross.  Gill netting kills many types of untargeted species, and in 1981, it was estimated that some 14,000 dolphins were killed in such nets.

The future of ocean fish farming is that of aquaculture which now provides some 50% of all the fish eaten worldwide.  With the decline of stocks in the wild, it is almost certain that this type of fish cultivation will play an important part in our future food supply.  Scientists are already working on aspects of robotics and artificial intelligence applications for improving the environmental conditions of the Aqua pods.

The ocean aqua parts seem to have far more viability from a commercial perspective, and the ability to reduce pollution.  Perhaps the only real concern is that of a genetically modified fish escaping into the wild.  Such escapees mixing with the wild fish make potential he upset the balance of nature.  There is a possibility that such hybrid isolation in the wild may impact the immune system of the wild fish stocks, and thereby impact ecological considerations the ocean.  Scientists will need to carefully evaluate the risks involved against human need for ongoing food supplies, and that of interfering with the balance of nature.

Conclusion

There remains no scientific doubt that ocean acidification and pollution of our ocean is linked to that of climate change and the increases in CO2 levels in our oceans.  In order to reverse the existing damage there needs to be a holistic change in thinking by the world governments to diminish the amount of CO2 gases being released into the atmosphere.  Despite some efforts the current contribution in emission reduction falls far short in terms of what is required.  Ironically the warming temperature will cause our polar ice caps to melt causing further degradation to our oceans.  It is the melting of the ice caps that will contribute to the desalinizing of the ocean and change the regulated temperatures by interfering with the ocean currents and contribute towards extreme climate change (Lindell).  It is considered that we have already passed the tipping point of reversing the damage of climate change and we are now faced with damage limitation to our planet.  This does not provide an optimistic picture for future generations.

The scientific evidence supports sufficient concern for global warming. This has in in the past occurred as a natural phenomenon which nature has balanced. It is the intervention of man adding to the existing volume of natural greenhouse gases that has tipped the balance and created uncharted territory for climate change.  Sound Science, the scientific evidence and foundation of knowledge that supports climate change, does not provide an optimistic picture for the future.  Every suggestion is that the situation will get increasingly more serious unless countries reduce the amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Historically nature tends to balance these conditions but mankind has disturbed this fragile balance by burning fossil fuels, deforestation and use of industrial processes that create greenhouse gases. This imbalance gives ride to increased infra-red radiation, changes in the air temperature, variation to precipitation patterns, changing the sea levels and melting of glaciers.  The long term ramifications of climate change have yet to be measured or determined but are seeing marked changes to the expected ‘norms’ of our climate patterns today may result in the need for deployment of alternate more expensive durable materials.

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Bowermaster, Jon. Oceans: The Threats to Our Seas and What You Can Do to Turn the Tide. New York: Partocipant Media, 2010.

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Ramesh, R. India reveals Carbon Emission targets. 2 12 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/india-reveal-carbon-emission-target. 26 9 2012.

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