SCIENCE -- November 29, 2010 at 8:40 AM EDT
Addressing Ocean Acidification on Both Coasts
An Environmental Protection Agency memo on ocean acidification played a role in the settlement of a lawsuit that challenged the EPA's failure to address the issue under the Clean Water Act.
Concern over ocean acidification is heightened by the focus on climate change. The process of ocean acidification is not new, but many climatologists worry that its expedited pace is a result of increased carbon emissions.
Because oceans occupy 70 percent of the planet's surface, they are more greatly exposed to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean acts as a sponge and soaks some of that carbon, creating carbonic acid which can erode the shells of shellfish. The tiniest shellfish are food for larger fish, and this passes upward through the commercial fishing industry and the millions of people who eat seafood.
For those of you interested in doing your own research on ocean acidification, here are some helpful sources. The National Resources Defense Council has a significant amount of background information online including a simple pdf, as well as a long multimedia section of their site and a 21-minute movie.
There is also a primer page from the organization that brought the lawsuit against the EPA.
For those interested in the debate, or who question the severity of ocean acidification, there has been a recent and interesting exchange between the author and blogger Matt Ridley and the U.K. Ocean Acidification Programme. The scientists' response with links back to Ridley's original post is worth a read.