Recent indicators show that the seas of our planet, which have been absorbing the maximum emissions, are currently becoming less effective at doing so. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are the largest element absorbed by the oceans, but this has begun dropping since the 80s and markedly so since 2000, claim environmental researchers.
Till now, the oceans were considered a reliable ‘carbon sink’ where a large portion of the emissions were taken off the planet. However, the result has been that as the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide, they become more acidic and this lowers their ability to absorb further carbon dioxide, claim scientists. Though the change in absolute values is small, it represents a significant level of the emissions released, implying that more gases will remain in the atmosphere and hence greenhouse effects could magnify.
Research by two totally independent teams, using different methodologies has generated the approximate same answer. According to both their research findings, the capacity of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide has gone down even as the emission levels from humans have gone up. The issue is one of serious concern as it could affect the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases present and their effect on the atmosphere.
Even as countries argue over the rate of emission cut-down needed to achieve a stable balance of sorts and pressure building up on the developing nations to cut back on emissions, the drop in the ability of the environment itself to deal with a part of the emissions means more work towards environmental sustainability. Also to be taken into consideration is the fact that the salinity and acidity levels of the sea have been affected which means other economic aspects related to oceans such as fisheries will be adversely affected.
Environmental issues are slowly gaining ground as their impact on the global economy becomes more visible. This is leading to countries which have high emission outputs viz. the developed countries trying to safeguard their levels of consumption while imposing restriction on others to cut back on theirs. Increasingly, these restrictions are taking the form of economic sanctions and may end up harming the globalisation of economies as countries fight over their right to control not only resources but also the right to pollute.