Fact: Ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution. This rate of change surpasses all ocean chemistry changes in the past 50 million years. Living in an acidifying ocean is challenging for corals, oysters, lobsters and other shell-building animals.
Shell-building animals need a lot of energy to build their shells, but as the ocean absorbs more and more carbon dioxide, they have to spend that energy on dealing with these acidified conditions instead of growing, building shells, or reproducing. Slower growing animals that build their shells later can be more vulnerable to predators and disease.
All of this means that shellfish could become scarcer on people’s dinner plates—and harder to come by for hungry ocean wildlife. These consequences would cascade through the entire ocean ecosystem and our communities that rely on it. Our shell-builders help create habitat for other sea creatures, protect our shorelines and support the economy.
While we are beginning to see coordinated, ocean-focused action on climate change occurring at the local, regional, and even international levels—there is much more work to be done at the federal level to help our communities prepare for the impacts of climate change
Take action to help our shell-builders by urging Congress to fund climate change and ocean acidification research. Federal research funding can help deepen our scientific understanding of this problem and enable us to respond in order to protect thousands of jobs.
We must not shy away from the opportunity to continue American leadership on ocean science and technology, combining that history of excellence with a forward-looking vision to steward the main resource that makes life on Earth possible: the ocean.