Climate regulating ocean plants and animals are being destroyed by toxic chemicals and plastics, accelerating our path towards ocean pH 7.95 in 25 years which will devastate humanity.
18 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2021 Last revised: 13 Oct 2021
Date Written: June 5, 2021
Marine plants and animals should still be thriving in ocean waters, but they are not. We have lost 50% of all marine life over the last 70 years. The GOES team has used its collective professional and academic experience to undertake further analysis of the peer reviewed and published data to explore the less obvious reasons for this decline and its implications for climate and humanity. In our view, this loss of marine life is directly related to the drop ocean pH and the ‘chemical revolution’ which began in 1950, a decline which is continuing today at a rate of 1% year-on-year despite there being ideal conditions for growth.
There is no doubt that it is the tiny ocean planktonic plants and animals that regulate our climate, but the planet’s largest ecosystem seems to be ignored as one of the tools to address climate change. Every second breath we take comes from marine photosynthesis, a process which also uses 60-90% of our carbon dioxide. If we have lost 50% of the very thing that regulates the climate, surely it is time to stop, take a fresh look at ocean chemistry and biodiversity and ask ourselves some fundamental questions: “Why have we lost this level of marine life? Why is the decline continuing? What does this mean for our climate and humanity?
Of particular concern from a climate change perspective is the level of carbonic acid in the oceans, which is the result of atmospheric carbon dioxide being dissolved into the oceans. In the 1940’s pH was 8.2, but in 2020, pH had dropped to it 8.04, meaning the ocean is becoming more acidic. If there are no plants to use the ‘carbon’ for photosynthesis, this leaves unused carbonic acid to move the pH downwards. Reports from respected institutes around the globe, flag an acceleration of the ocean acidification process, which will result in the loss of more marine plants and animals, especially those that have carbonate shells and body structures (aragonite) based. These same reports forecast that in 25 years, pH will drop to 7.95 (2045) and with this, they estimate 80% to 90% of all remaining marine life will be lost – that in the GOES team’s opionion is a tipping point; a planetary boundary which must not be exceeded if humanity is to survive.
Let’s be clear: If by some miracle the world achieves Net Zero by 2045, evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) BioAcid report  report demonstrates that this reduction will not be enough to stop a drop in ocean to pH 7.95. If the level of marine life (both plants and animal) is reduced, then the oceans’ ability to lockout carbon into the abyss is depleted. It is clear to the GOES team that if we only pursue carbon mitigation strategies and don’t do more to regenerate plant and animal life in oceans, we will reach a tipping point, a planetary boundary from which there will be no return, because all life on Earth depends upon the largest ecosystem on the planet. Humanity will suffer terribly from global warming, but it must be understood that the oceans are already showing signs of instability today at pH8.04, but pH 7.95 represents the tipping point.
Keywords: ocean, acidification, marine, climate, change, extinction
JEL Classification: Q54, Q56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation