When it comes to the impact of human activity on our world’s oceans, there’s no doubt about it: we have not exactly made the wisest choices. Whether we are carelessly throwing mountains of trash into the sea, or eating fish and other marine species into extinction, it seems that we just can’t put an end to our destructive actions.
Another lesser-known effect that we humans have created is the phenomenon of oceanic acidification. At present, the oceans absorb approximately 30 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. While this might be great news for us, in that the more carbon dioxide the oceans absorb, the less there is in our air and atmosphere, it spells disaster for the world’s marine life.
As more carbon dioxide is absorbed into the oceans, it causes the acidity levels of the water to change. The world’s marine life have developed to thrive in certain environmental conditions, so when the acidity of their home goes up, their bodies struggle to adapt. For shellfish, more acidic means softer, weaker shells and similarly harmful effects for other fish and mammals.
A new marine analysis undertaken by a team of ecologists from the University of Adelaide, Australia, has found that a combination of acidification and warming is expected to have to a “simplifying” effect on the world’s oceans. Basically, this is a euphemism for the fact that a number of key marine species that underpin marine ecosystems around the world are dying off.
Ivan Nagelkerken, Future Fellow with the University of Adelaide, said, “This ‘simplification’ of our oceans will have profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on the oceans for food and trade.”
Further, Nagelkerken explains that their analysis of the ocean trends projects that there will be a top-down collapse of marine food chains.
Small organisms, such as plankton are expected to be particularly hard hit by ocean acidification, these tiny creatures make up the primary diet of young carnivorous fish, such as tuna, salmon, in addition to other animals such as clams, shrimp, whales, and jellyfish.
But what does this mean for humans? Well, the most immediate, and noticeable, consequences will be a drop in the availability of some of the most popular forms of seafood: shrimp, oysters, clams, tuna, and salmon. Essentially, this means you can kiss your spicy tuna roll behind thanks to ocean acidification.
Of course, the thought of losing these fish is frightening, not having sushi is the very least of our problems. Our oceans are responsible for regulating weather patterns and producing around 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe. If our oceans collapse, our collective ecosystem will collapse along with it.
How You Can Help
The good news is we can all play a part in helping to stop this imminent destruction and interestingly it starts with what you put on your plate. Animal agriculture is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions and plays a large part in the degradation of the oceans biodiversity.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.
By choosing to eat more plant-based foods you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.
Our everyday food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.
One Green Planet’s #EatForthePlanet movement.
How to Participate:
1. Choose a plant-based/vegan meal
3. Add #EatForThePlanet and @OneGreenPlanet in your update.
Let’s show the world how eating vegan/plant-based has never been easier or more delicious!
Click on the graphic below for more information
Lead Image Source: Jacinta Loch Valero/Flickr