The biggest environmental challenge you’ve never heard of

Ocean acidification is already beginning to wreak havoc on New York’s marine wildlife, fishing, coastal economy, tourism, and recreation industries. Our oceans are a major carbon sink, absorbing around 25% of the carbon emitted every day. Because of the changing pH, calcifying species like shellfish, sea urchins, and corals are negatively impacted. At the same time, harmful algal species’ blooms are increasing, releasing more toxins into the water. Many of these toxins are known to cause harm or death to not only the marine life, but people as well. All of these effects affect the marine food web, and have ripple effects across the planet.

New York’s legislators have realized the risks associated with ocean acidification and have passed a bill to create the Ocean Acidification Task Force.  After passing through the Senate and Assembly, all that is left is for Governor Cuomo to sign S.7908/A.10264.  The Ocean Acidification Task Force would rest within the Department of Environmental Conservation, and would study the impacts of our changing ocean pH on the coastal environment.

In addition to our efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we must also pay attention to the health of our oceans, which play a critical role in regulating our climate.  The lasting effects of acidification are unknown, and marine life, such as oysters, are crucial to keeping our water clean, filtering out pollutants through their natural functions. As the ocean becomes more acidic, their shells weaken and dissolve, resulting in  more fragile ecosystem.

The future projections indicate that the ocean will become 150% more acidic by the end of this century. We applaud New York legislators’ proactive stance in creating the task force.