Ocean acidification is like global warming’s sad, ignored twin. It results, like climate change, from human emissions of greenhouse gases, much of which, we know, are absorbed into the sea, lowering the water’s pH level. And while we don’t talk about it as much, the oceans have already become 30 percent more acidic over the past 200 years, with disastrous consequences for coral reefs, creatures with shells and vulnerable fisheries.
And in the past, finds a new study in the journal Science, such acidification was the catalyst for a mass extinction event that nearly wiped out life on Earth.
It was carbon from extreme volcanic activity, it claims, that ended up in the oceans and triggered the Permian extinction event, a.k.a. the “Great Dying,” in which more than 90 percent of Earth’s marine species and two-thirds of its land animals disappeared.