It is not uncommon to hear about the many misconceptions that are circulating around the talk about Global Warming – my personal favourite being how the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the air is creating a hole in the ozone layer – but fact is, while we are slowly adapting our way of life to reduce our ecological footprint , it is not enough to just do . We need to constantly educate ourselves and understand why we do the things we do. We need to understand the impact of our actions and find that singular point of contention and change it into a motivating force to ensure that our commitment towards sustainability is in fact, sustainable.
The first question is the ask , how then , has global warming affected the environment around you? As a diver, the question inevitably goes back to the oceans. We already know about the dangers of rising sea-levels, but the impact of global warming goes beyond just that, it alters the entire marine bio-diversity in our waters.
The oceans are the world’s largest natural carbon sinks making it an integral part of the natural cycle of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere. The other natural carbon sinks include our forests and jungles which, via photosynthesis, remove carbon dioxide from the air. The ocean dissolves and absorbs the carbon dioxide from the air, removing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Currently, approximately one-third of the carbon emissions are estimated to be entering the oceans.
So , this is technically a good thing isn’t it? Less carbon dioxide in the air, less melting ice-caps, slower temperature changes and etc, but what about our oceans ? What happens to all the carbon dioxide underwater ? . Let’s go back to simple chemistry, when you add carbon dioxide to water, you get carbonic acid. Carbonic acid in turn, affects that pH level of the ocean, giving rise to what is commonly known as the acidification of the ocean.
Acidification of the ocean. The term itself makes one uncomfortable and could even make you think twice before you take your next dive. Don’t worry, you don’t have to worry about your wet-suits corroding. What carbonic acid does is that dissolves the calcium carbonates needed by corals and seashell-forming organisms to make their hard exteriors. imperiling our entire coral reefs and the primary level of the undersea food chain. The overall consequence for all marine life – fish, corals, mollusk and more – could be profound. So really , no worry at all eh ?
Presently, this is not the only threat to our marine bio-diversity. Amongst many other things, our global fisheries are on the verge of collapse from extensive over-fishing as the demand for seafood continue to rocket. For those of us who have witnessed the gradual degradation of our reefs can testify that we urgently need to do something before our oceans become devoid of marine life.
This would be the part where one would normally expound on the various ways to reduce one’s ecological footprint, but we already know what needs to be done. So , start crackin’