The acidification of the Earth's oceans, where climatologists warn that continued carbon emissions have a dangerous impact, has led to a mass extinction 66 million years ago, according to a new study.
Small-shelled marine organisms survived the meteorite that hit Earth and extinguished the dinosaurs, as researchers from the GFZ's Geoscience Research Center in Potsdam reported, but the ensuing high pH drop in the ocean caused the extinction of marine life.
"We show acidification of the ocean can trigger an environmental collapse," said Michael Henehan, who led the study, to The Guardian.
Researchers studied shell fossils in sediments from the time immediately after impact of the meteorite on the planet showed that the pH of the oceans dropped by about 0.25 units in the 1
But the newspaper reported, "It was the effects of acidification and other pressures, such as the 'nuclear winter' that followed the impact that eventually drove these foraminifera into extinction."
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"We have been warned," climate fighter Ed Matthew tweeted with a link to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Climate change makes the oceans more acidic. This important scientific study shows that after the asteroid strike 65 meters ago, it was an acidic ocean that quenched 75% of marine life. We were warned https://t.co/PYiE8V2CM3[19659002)-EdMatthew(@Ed_Matthew1) October 21, 2019
Today, climate scientists warn that the further combustion of oil, gas and coal takes place. An acidification of the Ocean that remains unchecked can result in a pH drop of 0.4 units.
When policymakers can help limit global warming to two degrees Celsius by ordering fossil fuels to remain in the soil and shift to a renewable energy economy could lower the pH of the ocean decrease by only 0.15 units.
"If 0.25 is enough to cause a mass extinction, we should be worried," Henahan told The Guardian.
Like Common Dreams in July, MIT researchers recently also turned their attention to acidification of the oceans. The researchers released data showing that today's carbon content is rapidly approaching a turning point that could trigger extreme acidification of the ocean, similar to the species that contributed to the extinction of the Permian-Triassic mass by 250 took place millions of years ago.