In a report in the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), a team of scientists says that carbon-dioxide induced "changes in ocean chemistry within the ranges predicted for the next decades and centuries present significant risks to marine biota" and that "adverse impacts on food webs and key biogeochemical process" would result. The problem is severe enough that the CO2 content in our water could violate EPA water quality criteria standards set back in 1976 within a few decades if drastic steps to curtail our CO2 emissions are not taken. Why is this so serious? From our source article:
"About 1/3 of the CO2 from fossil-fuel burning is absorbed by the world's oceans," explained lead author Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology. "When CO2 gas dissolves in the ocean it makes carbonic acid which can damage coral reefs and also hurt other calcifying organisms, such as phytoplankton and zooplankton, some of the most critical players at the bottom of the world's food chain. In sufficient concentration, the acidity can corrode shellfish shells, disrupt coral formation, and interfere with oxygen supply. "
According to the EPA report from 1976, CO2 concentrations must remain below 500 ppm or else the pH (potential of Hydrogen) levels will be too low, making the water acidic. An effort must be made to avoid this scenario, and our emissions of CO2 must be cut drastically in short order to keep from damaging our waters.
[Source: Carnegie Institution]