From Sea to Carbon Cesspool: Preventing the World's Marine Ecosystems from Falling Victim to Ocean Acidification

Heidi R. Lamirande
Created: 5/02/2011 -


From the Introduction:

Each year, the oceans absorb up to one ton of CO2 per each person on the planet. Although beneficial, this undertaking is cause for alarm because the current amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has not been experienced on Earth for at least 800,000 years. While steps have been taken to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions, CO2 released by human activities has increased by nearly 40% from preindustrial levels. Since that time, the oceans have absorbed almost half of all CO2 emissions, decreasing levels of potential of hydrogen (pH) and making them more acidic. This process, now known as ocean acidification, is rapidly increasing and has shrewdly been dubbed the “other CO2 problem.” Unless ocean acidification becomes part of the international climate change agenda, the impact on marine organisms and coastal economies could be devastating.

This Note explores the likely consequences of ocean acidification and the need for an international response to curb its effects. First, Part II of this Note will examine the science behind ocean acidification and the potential effects of increased CO2. Next, Part III will consider the history of climate change legislation, as well as proposed local and national law specifically addressing ocean acidification. Part IV of this Note will then analyze gaps in current climate change law and propose the creation of an international treaty exclusively on ocean acidification. Lastly, Part V will urge that the international community adopt such a protocol on ocean acidification to effectively halt any long-term effects on the environment.

Published On


Multilateral / Transboundary
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Water Resources
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Ocean acidification
Habitat/Biome Type