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Climate change affects everyone around the planet. This is not an isolated effect, but an increasing global transformation...and our oceans are at risk as well.

We've covered the problem of climate change in other articles but we need to address an aspect of the damage CO2 is doing to the world's oceans so that a fuller picture emerges as to the scope of the greenhouse gas problem -- and the solutions cannabis offers. This article started with some statements from someone who wanted to argue about climate change. They presented a "gotcha" statement and it was this: "If you want to stop climate change, it's simple -- stop hunting whales. Phytoplankton in the ocean is the key because it's responsible for 70-80% of the earth's oxygen." I knew that they were simply trying to ‘one up’ me -- prove they were smarter -- but I paid attention and did some research. What I found was profoundly disturbing.

Scientists now believe that the pollution in the air from CO2 is causing the earth's oceans to become acidic. Ocean acidification is probably harming the delicate ecosystem and affecting sea creatures from majestic whales all the way down to calcareous plankton. The person was wrong in his statement because plankton IS NOT ENOUGH to clean the CO2 from our atmosphere and, if we don't use phytoremediation with land based plants to support work the ocean does (and the weight the oceans are struggling under) there might not BE anymore whales one day.

The ocean's influence in our Earth system is critical. Most of the rain that falls on land comes from the tropical ocean.  The ocean is the primary driver of weather and climate. The phytoplankton (microscopic plants) that live in the ocean are responsible for almost half the oxygen we inhale and plays a vital role in the carbon cycle. Fields of crops enjoy rainwater that traveled through the water cycle.  That argumentative statement pointed me in a new direction; a direction that shows how much more urgently we need to start cleaning the carbon out of our atmosphere. Cannabis is STILL the solution.

NASA Ocean Earthy Cycle Graphic

"The measurement of pH, total alkalinity and DIC are important for monitoring ocean acidification. Ocean acidification (OA) is the decrease in ocean pH as a result of an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption by seawater. OA is a prominent concern in today’s world. CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere from everyday human activities, such as emissions from vehicles and industrial pollution.

"Each year approximately 25% of the CO2 pumped into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean. Although ocean plants can use CO2 for photosynthesis, the increase also has negative implications. As the amount of CO2 absorbed by the increases, the pH is expected to continue decreasing."1

What is Ocean Acidification?

"The Chemistry: When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, chemical reactions occur that reduce seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed "ocean acidification" or "OA" for short. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals.

"This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells.

"Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units. Since the pH scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, this change represents approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity. Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic.

"Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on “business as usual” emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.

The Biological Impacts

"Ocean acidification is expected to impact ocean species to varying degrees. Photosynthetic algae and seagrasses may benefit from higher CO2 conditions in the ocean, as they require CO2 to live just like plants on land. On the other hand, studies have shown that a more acidic environment has a dramatic effect on some calcifying species, including oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton. When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk.

CO2 causes ocean acidification

Shellfish

"In recent years, there have been near total failures of developing oysters in both aquaculture facilities and natural ecosystems on the West Coast. These larval oyster failures appear to be correlated with naturally occurring upwelling events that bring low pH waters undersaturated in aragonite as well as other water quality changes to nearshore environments. Lower pH values occur naturally on the West Coast during upwelling events, but recent observations indicate that anthropogenic CO2 is contributing to seasonal under-saturation. Low pH may be a factor in the current oyster reproductive failure; however, more research is needed to disentangle potential acidification effects from other risk factors. It is premature to conclude that acidification is responsible for the recent oyster failures, but acidification is a potential factor in the current crisis to this $100 million a year industry, prompting new collaborations and accelerated research on ocean acidification and potential biological impacts."

Coral

"Increasing ocean acidification has been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their skeletons. In a recent paper, coral biologists reported that ocean acidification could compromise the successful fertilization, larval settlement and survivorship of Elkhorn coral, an endangered species. OA could severely impact the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance. Other research indicates that, by the end of this century, coral reefs may erode faster than they can be rebuilt. This could compromise the long-term viability of these ecosystems and perhaps impact the estimated one million species that depend on coral reef habitat.”

Ocean Acidification: An Emerging Global Problem

"Ocean acidification is an emerging global problem. Over the last decade, there has been much focus in the ocean science community on studying the potential impacts of ocean acidification. Since sustained efforts to monitor ocean acidification worldwide are only beginning, it is currently impossible to predict exactly how ocean acidification impacts will cascade throughout the marine food chain and affect the overall structure of marine ecosystems."2

You may wonder how cannabis can help. Simple. By absorbing CO2 out of the air with cannabis phytoremediation, the amount of CO2 that goes into the ocean is drastically reduced which allows for the ocean to rebalance itself. The Earth's Circle of Life needs rebalancing and the Tree of Life can help accomplish this.

 

1. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/fromthefield/2014/04/15/sampling-the-global-ocean-and-a-note-on-ocean-acidification/
2. https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+Acidification%3F

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