Without durable protective housing, those shelled organisms, which are an incredibly important part of the food chain, will struggle to survive. This means that there won’t be enough food to go around for beluga whales, seals, and polar bears, to name only a few. And if they don’t have enough to eat, in some cases people won’t either. This is especially the true for remote Arctic communities that don’t have the option to diversity their livelihoods due to their dependence on a healthy environment.
Ocean acidification, which we sometimes refer to as “climate change’s evil twin,” happens when excess carbon dioxide for fossil fuels burning is absorbed in seawater. The ocean is the world’s largest carbon dioxide sink. Between 30 and 40% of the carbon dioxide we create by burning coal or, say, driving cars, dissolves into the world’s oceans as well as our many rivers and lakes. Additional confounding factors include, for example, freshwater/low salinity, temperature and upwelling.
Ocean acidification is a global, long-term problem whose ultimate solution requires carbon dioxide reduction at a scope and scale that will take decades to accomplish successfully. In Paris later this year, national governments have a chance to make commitments to address these issues
. Until that is achieved, local adaptation and mitigation measures are needed to ensure the well-being of socially vulnerable coastal communities and the marine species these communities depend on. More and better marine protected areas
will help increase the resilience of vulnerable ocean ecosystems. They are part of the solution, too.