- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some of the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters will suffer the most from ocean acidification as a result of global warming according to a new study by the advocacy group Oceana.

Japan, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia — among the top 10 polluters — are the most vulnerable to the condition in which carbon dioxide emissions decrease the pH of seawater, killing coral and marine life. The United States and China, the world’s largest carbon emitters, ranked 13 and eight, respectively, according to the study.

The vulnerability of a nation to ocean acidification is based on the nation’s dependence on coral reefs, the size of its fishery and its fish and shellfish consumption patterns. Nations at high latitudes are especially vulnerable, as acidification tends to occur sooner in their waters, Oceana, a ocean protection and restoration advocacy group, said.

More than a third of the world’s population lives in one of the 25 nations that will be most impacted by ocean acidification by 2050, according to the study.

To stop the problem and preserve marine life, scientists say global carbon dioxide emissions should be cut by at least 85 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. To achieve such a cut, developed nations must slash emissions by 80 to 95 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. Climate change legislation pending on Capitol Hill seeks to cut the nation’s emissions by 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, which would not be adequate according to the group’s estimates.

Choosing to slow ocean acidification and climate change will be less expensive than allowing these huge threats to continue unchecked, said Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s senior campaign director, in the study.

The researchers cited by Oceana estimate that coral reefs provide services worth an estimated $30 billion annually to the global economy.

The study can be found here.

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