3 Environmental Issues to Look Out For in 2018: Ocean Acidification and Marine Protection

Photo source (clockwise from top left): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [here]; Diego Henao [here]; Justin Hoffman, National Geographic [here]; Andrew McConnell, Panos [here].
Since the early 1800s, fossil-powered machineries have been the propelling force for the dawn of modernization. From cars to factories, emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have skyrocketed, bringing about devastating global consequences such as climate change.

While climate change discussions frequently appear in mainstream media, the same cannot be said for “ocean acidification”. Ocean acidification is defined as the process in which massive amounts of carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans, dissolve in the seawater as carbonic acid. Indeed, some might question the relativity of all this to our survival as a species, which will be clear in a few paragraphs from now.

First, it is important to know that our oceans play a critical role in the global carbon cycle which is mainly a process whereby carbon dioxide, human-released or naturally present in our atmosphere, is kept regulated to maintain a balanced ecosystem. In a nutshell, our oceans can be described as a “carbon storehouse”, but only with a finite capacity!

Scientists have suggested, as carbon emissions increase with our ever-demanding population, so does the rate of absorption by the oceans which has resulted in the significant chemical altering of its pH levels. Increasingly acidified waters have greatly affected the marine population, particularly those at the lower end of the food chain such as shellfish. This has consequently given rise to the erosion of the oceanic food supply chain.

A sea butterfly shell placed in seawater with slightly increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days; Photo source: Ocean Portal, Smithsonian (Courtesy of David Littschwager/National Geographic Society) [here].
It has significant implications for food security and economies on a global scale as many a community and their livelihoods depend on what our oceans’ biodiversity can provide. What will the fishes such as salmon and other commercially-important fish feed on when their food supply diminishes? We are at risk of losing one of our most crucial sources of food.

Added to the strain, diverse forms of human pollution – of plastics and chemical wastes, as well as overfishing and rising temperatures of the ocean constitute further threats to marine life. A call for action is needed to spread awareness before it becomes too late.


That concludes our 3-part-series on what environmental issues to look out for in 2018. We hope what brief insight provided in the text above as well as in the previous 2 posts, will be able to give rise to more awareness on the environmental issues we face as a population. Looking ahead, a call for action is needed to ensure the future of our generations. We encourage youths to be more mindful of their environmental footprint. Tell us what you think we could all do as part of the community to improve and advocate for awareness. What other things should we be mindful of when it comes to environmental protection? Let us know in the comments!



  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/23/ocean-acidification-deadly-threat-to-marine-life-finds-eight-year-study
  3. http://www.noaa.gov/ocean-acidification-high-co2-world-dangerous-waters-ahead
  4. http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification
  5. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-you-need-know-about-ocean-acidification