By this point, everyone knows that carbon dioxide has some impact on the global climate. There are arguments about the degree, but the scientific data is pretty conclusive: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to increased temperatures around the world, which will, in turn, lead to a variety of ecological catastrophes. According to the historical record, climate change has consistently been the leading cause of mass extinctions.
Higher global temperatures will lead to increased sea levels, putting billions people living in coastal areas at risk for flooding. It will also drastically change weather patterns, making previously fertile areas little more than dust bowls and radically increase the strength of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.
What a lot of people don’t know is that carbon dioxide doesn’t just impact the world’s temperatures. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, which is, superficially at least, a good thing. Reduced atmospheric CO2 will reduce the temperature rise, but unfortunately, CO2 in the water increases it’s acidity.
Just like a carbonated beverage is more acidic than a flat one, the oceans will grow more acidic the more CO2 they take up. Changes in the water chemistry can drastically impact the oceanic food chains, potentially taking the legs out of one of the most productive food resources when the world’s population is peaking. It’s pretty clear that something has to be done in order to control the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things we can do…