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Coral reefs: one more reason to cut CO2 emissions

If climate change wasn’t enough of a reason to cut CO2 emissions, it now seems that increased ocean acidity (caused by an increase in atmospheric CO2) will be devastating to coral reef ecosystems.

The survival of the world’s coral reefs will be seriously threatened by 2050 if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the acidity of ocean waters continue to rise at the present rate, said a study published Thursday.

High acidity dissolves minerals in the water that speed up calcification of corals leading to their premature death, warned researchers of the Washington-based Carnegie Institution in their study in Science magazine.

Unless emissions of CO2 — global warming’s main contributor — are stabilized and reduced, 98 percent of coral reef habitats will be immersed in excessively acid waters, said oceanographers and study co-authors Ken Caldeira and Long Cao.

Their estimates are based on computer models of the ocean water’s changing chemical composition with rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere — from pre-industrial 280 parts per million (ppm) to the current 380 ppm, all the way up to 500 ppm.

2 Responses to Coral reefs: one more reason to cut CO2 emissions

  1. One more reason that human cultures are going extinct as a result of climate change: the acidification of oceans and the bleaching of coral reefs which feeds millions.

    Are you willing to go back on your statement that climate change isn’t a threat to humanity’s survival?

  2. Nope. I stand by what I said. This is just another example of the costs of inaction. While the acidification of the oceans and the destruction of coral reefs may spell certain doom for some coastal communities, and result in potentially huge costs (and not just financial costs) to some countries, humanity will still survive.

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