(p. C4) The effect of acidification, according to J.E.N. Veron, an Australian coral scientist, will be “nothing less than catastrophic…. What were once thriving coral gardens that supported the greatest biodiversity of the marine realm will become red-black bacterial slime, and they will stay that way.”
This is a common view. The Natural Resources Defense Council has called ocean acidification “the scariest environmental problem you’ve never heard of.” Sigourney Weaver, who narrated a film about the issue, said that “the scientists are freaked out.” The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls it global warming’s “equally evil twin.”
. . .
If the average pH of the ocean drops to 7.8 from 8.1 by 2100 as predicted, it will still be well above seven, the neutral point where alkalinity becomes acidity.
. . .
In a recent experiment in the Mediterranean, reported in Nature Climate Change, corals and mollusks were transplanted to lower pH sites, where they proved “able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high [carbon-dioxide] levels projected for the next 300 years.” In any case, freshwater mussels thrive in Scottish rivers, where the pH is as low as five.
Laboratory experiments find that more marine creatures thrive than suffer when carbon dioxide lowers the pH level to 7.8. This is because the carbon dioxide dissolves mainly as bicarbonate, which many calcifiers use as raw material for carbonate.
For the full commentary, see:
MATT RIDLEY. “MIND & MATTER; Taking Fears of Acid Oceans With a Grain of Salt.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., January 7, 2012): C4.
(Note: ellipsis in first paragraph in original; ellipses between paragraphs added.)