The change in the ocean’s chemistry is said to be due to carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
This, combined with overfishing and pollution, imperils marine life on which billions of people depend for food and jobs.
That warning by the International Program on the State of the Ocean came after an international audit of the health of the oceans revealed the magnitude of the man-made threats.
Program officials caution that Earth’s next mass extinction may have already begun in the oceans.
They warn that coral is especially sensitive to changes in pH levels in the water, and it provides the habitat countless fish and other species depend upon to survive.
Findings published in the program’s State of the Oceans report say that there is a lag of several decades between CO2 being created by human activities and the resulting ocean acidification.
This means that even if world leaders drastically reduced emissions now, further acidification and warming of the oceans are inevitable.
Photo: © Louie Psihoyos