The next time you’re having a bit of a bad day, consider this: in a part of the Southern Ocean, sea snails are literally dissolving day by day, thanks to the increasingly high amounts of man-made acidification. Being a little late to that meeting beats being dissolved alive, eh?
Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge and some of his colleagues capture some sea snails from the Southern Ocean back in 2008, and after studying them carefully, they can now say that similar snails are losing their shells to acid at this very moment. As Tarling put it, “This is actually happening now.”
This acidification is the result of CO2 air pollution working its way into the water where it forms carbonic acid, which eats away at the calcium shells of sea snails and other mollusks. This is the first solid evidence that mollusks are being adversely affected by acidification, which has been happening faster than any time in the past 300 million years. Solutions to the problem include frantically dumping large quantities of limestone in the ocean, or laying off a little on CO2 emissions. The latter is probably the most practically, but if we don’t get to it soon, it might be limestone time before you know it. [New Scientist]