Alaska Must Lead in Addressing Ocean Acidification, and Fast

Our planet is a place of ongoing evolution, with ecosystems under constant shift as we adapt in relationship to one another and to the global climate that sustains us.

So how do we put the realities of ocean acidification into perspective? How do we describe a fundamental change in the chemistry of the water covering more than 70 percent of Earth's surface?

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Shallin Busch put it this way at a recent Anchorage workshop on ocean acidification: the last time the ocean was at the pH levels we're currently seeing, Earth was experiencing the dawn of horses. It's been eons.

And current levels are not the result of a gradual peak and valley shift over the last million years. The present rate of change is 100 times greater than any rate in the last 20 million years. Acidification is a fast-paced reality, the likes of which have not been seen during the human era.

Alaska cannot afford to take a follower position in this effort. We must be a leader in research and education, and in our dedication to understanding and mitigating the long-term effects of ocean acidification on our local, regional and global ecology.