Coral reefs in toxic peril

By K. Lamorris Waller

Like a piece of chalk dissolving in vinegar, marine life with hard shells, like shellfish, and coral reefs are in danger of being dissolved by increasing acidity in the oceans due to rising carbon dioxide levels.

Research conducted by Atul Jain, professor of atmospheric science at the University, Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution scientist, and graduate student Long Cao found that marine animals may be in danger. However, this isn’t a newly developed threat, said Jain.

The environment has become so polluted with carbon dioxide over many years that the ocean has absorbed enough of it to put a lot of our luxury food dishes in danger, he said. Additionally, with the rising of carbon dioxide levels, coral reefs will cease to exist within years, which puts thousands of species of fish, potential medicines and chemicals at risk, Jain said.

Coral reefs are important to keeping our environment safe. High acidity in the marine waters would mean bad news for all marine life, he said.