How can pollution cause harm to the marine environment?

What can atmospheric pollution do to the marine environment? The following is a 5 min read by Ioannis Dedes.

Regardless of the focus on this connection, this text is a simple guide that can raise awareness and clearly show the impact that carbon emissions have on the ocean and the entire food chain. The correlation of the two systems, the atmospheric and the aquatic, and the fact that our harmful actions for the pollution of the air are equally and sometimes even more disruptive for the marine ecosystems and equilibria is more important than ever. When discussing how humans affect the atmospheric system, the focus is usually on pollution and the effect of greenhouse gases. There is less focus on how the atmospheric system can affect the marine environment.

Carbonic acid can be easily broken down to hydrogen and hydrogen ion solutions, which can be found in excessive levels. Increasing acidity levels in the water can seriously harm the diversity of populations, habitats and plants of the oceans and this is a great contribution for the destruction of marine systems. After reading my last article on the environment, which raises awareness on the importance of the Amazon rainforest, one can easily understand how water acidity will work at the expense of the marine environment and the diversity of the river.

The text is more focused on the single perspective of burning fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions, along with other harmful activities. One might say that oceans work as a mechanism that absorbs 25% to 40% of the carbon dioxide emitted in the air and slows the rate of global warming. This is a great outcome for the absorption of this pollutant. It is considered great until one understands the second part of the story. The CO2 that is absorbed by the oceans creates an acidic substance called carbonic acid, which is dissolved with water.

The extinction of millions of shellfish larvae in the Pacific Northwest in 2005 and 2008 is an example that should be evaluated. It took a long time for the researchers to understand that the acidity of the waters was damaging the organisms population and that the low pH was causing the dissolution of shells. Scientists discovered that a lot of marine organisms build their skeletons and shells from calcium carbonate, which is vulnerable to acid and after two months, it completely dissolved and skeletons cannot be built in the water of low pH. Despite the fact that the population hasn’t fully recovered yet and as carbon continues to make water more acidic, the skeletons and the shells will be more vulnerable.

The change of the wind patterns is a negative mechanism caused by atmospheric pollution and it is found in the Pacific Ocean. A change in the wind patterns can cause the waters on the surface to push aside and acidic water to rise up to the shore. The previous one may have a negative effect on the phenomenon of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is caused by carbon dioxide in the oceans. Lower pH means higher acidity, the inability of many organisms to adapt, and the disruption of food chains as shown below.

As a writer, I would encourage the reader to devote more time in understanding the correlation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by human activities, which can affect both the atmosphere and the marine, as well as posing a great threat to the marine.