Not only is plastic pollution contributing to the deterioration of the marine

Not only is plastic pollution contributing to the

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Not only is plastic pollution contributing to the deterioration of the marine ecosystem, but so is the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This gas is “causing the most rapid global warming seen since the peak of the las Ice Age” (ARC). The amount of fossil fuels we burn is increasing at a faster rate than ever before. This means that current levels of carbon dioxide are interrupting the average fluctuations of the greenhouse gas. The anthropogenic intensification of carbon dioxide can be attributed to the increased use of transportation, consuming electricity, and deforestation. The burning of fossil fuels to power our transportation services like cars, buses, and trains, as well as watching tv and turning the lights on contribute to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Deforestation contributes to this increase of carbon dioxide as well. According to Los Angeles Times contributor Amina Khan, this phenomenon is due to the fact that there is a significantly reduced amount of carbon dioxide that would be used by these plants since they will no longer be living and in need of carbon dioxide. This excess carbon dioxide is then consequently
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absorbed into the oceans. Ellen Gray from NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center uses the analogy that the ocean is like a sponge that sucks up all the greenhouse gas that we produce as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. This describes the ocean as a heat sink, in which oceans store more emission than they contribute. These gases and heat energy are buried in the oceans for decades, which will result in the phenomenon termed “warming the pipeline” (Gray), which refers to the recirculation and eventual release of these buried gases from the ocean back into the atmosphere (Gray). This phenomenon will only cause the temperature of the atmosphere to continuously rise, regardless of whether or not carbon dioxide emissions were to decrease. This constant inhale and exhale of carbon dioxide by oceans creates carbonic acid because the gas mixes with the seawater. This carbonic acid releases hydrogen ions to form bicarbonate in the water, which does not escape the ocean easily (Riebeek). Author of “The Ocean’s Carbon Balance”, Holly Riebeek, states that: As we burn fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels go up, the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide to stay in balance. But this absorption has a price: these reactions lower the water’s pH, meaning it’s more acidic. And the ocean has its limits. As temperatures rise, carbon dioxide leaks out of the ocean like a glass of root beer going flat on a warm day… [and as] wind-driven currents bring cool waters and fresh carbonate to the surface [the] new water takes up yet more carbon to match the atmosphere, while the old water carries the carbon it has captured into the ocean. (Riebeek) This increased acidity of the water is depleting the quality of life of marine fauna. Because carbon dioxide is dissolving so quickly in oceans, the natural buffering system (stabilizing effect)
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of the ocean has not been able to compensate for it. This “relatively quick change in ocean
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