Ocean acidification—the decline in pH caused by absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere—threatens coral reefs worldwide. Rich in biodiversity and sensitive to change, these underwater habitats are already showing signs of distress from human activity.
If current rates of greenhouse gas emissions continue, ocean acidity could double by 2100, devastating not only coral reefs but other marine ecosystems as well.
Beyond marine life, there’s a looming threat to the rest of us: the “acidity tipping point.” Oceans have absorbed one-third of all CO2 emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution. At today’s emission rates, their capacity to do so will soon drop, accelerating climate change.
If that happens, we’ll look back and wish we’d paid closer attention to the coral in the coal mine.