The Ocean in Crisis.

Humanity’s dependence on the oceans is not a recent development but has existed for thousands of years, ever since man first realized that he could master the resources that the ocean has to offer. Humans are not beyond that basic dependence on regulation and equilibrium in how they interact with the vast oceans of the earth.

Unfortunately, much of this equilibrium between the health of oceans and the health of civilizations have disappeared in the last century, with the rise of grave threats to the world’s seas. Problems such as acidification, climate change, pollution, and overfishing have resulted in the need for civilizations to rethink how they exploit the oceans to support necessary institutions. Of course, the existence of these threats is not always clear, so the purpose of this paper is to elucidate some of the inevitable dangers humans pose to the oceans and how those dangers can be reversed.

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Acidification is a process of decreasing the pH level of some substance—in this case, the earth’s oceans. The process of acidification is occurring at a faster rate because of higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Because levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere remain relatively stable, the excess carbon dioxide is taken up by the oceans (Raven and Falkowski). Dissolved carbon dioxide produces acids such as carbonic acid and bicarbonate. A lower pH has the effect of making ocean waters more acidic, which means most importantly that oceanic calcifying organisms such as corals, crustaceans, echinoderms, mollusks, foraminifera, and others will be vulnerable to the negative effects of a more acidic ocean. Fundamental disruptions to the ecosystems of these organisms that lie at the bottom of the ocean’s food chain will have profound, and most likely irreversible influences life in the ocean.

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