Carbon emissions creating acidic oceans

Pollution is turning seas into acid, not seen since dinosaurs

Human pollution is turning the seas into acid so quickly that the coming decades will recreate conditions not seen on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs, scientists will warn today.

Chemical change is placing ‘unprecedented’ pressure on marine life such as shellfish and lobsters and could cause widespread extinctions, warn scientists. The rapid acidification is caused by the massive amounts of carbon dioxide released from chimneys and exhausts that dissolve in the ocean.

The study, by scientists at Bristol University, will be presented at a special three-day summit of climate scientists in Copenhagen, which opens today. The conference is intended to update the science of global warming and to shock politicians into taking action on carbon emissions.

Concern about ocean acidification from carbon pollution has grown in recent years, but the issue receives much less attention than global warming — also caused by human carbon emissions.

Ken Caldeira, an expert on ocean acidification at the Carnegie Institution in California, will tell the conference that the next few decades could produce ‘profound’ changes in the oceans. He said: ‘The choice to continue emitting carbon dioxide means that we will be an agent of biological change of a force and magnitude exceeded only by the causes of the great mass extinction events.’

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