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Carbon Emissions Cause Irreversible Damage to Ocean Ecosystems

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The sharp increases in carbon dioxide emissions are causing irreversible damage to the ocean ecosystems, which could take tens of thousand years for the oceans to recover, a new study warned on Monday.

According to the study, released by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), by 2050, ocean acidity could increase by 150 percent, 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced in the marine environment over the last 20 million years.

Seas and oceans absorb approximately one quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities.

"As more and more carbon dioxide has been emitted into the atmosphere, the oceans have absorbed greater amounts at increasingly rapid rates," says the study.

The absorption of atmospheric carbon has changed the chemical balance of the oceans, making them more acidic, which means that by the year 2100, some 70 percent of cold water corals, a key refuge and feeding ground for commercial fish species, will be exposed to corrosive waters.

"Ocean acidification is irreversible on timescales of at least tens of thousands of years, and substantial damage to ocean ecosystems can only be avoided by urgent and rapid reductions in global emissions of CO2," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the CBD.

"Attention must be given to the integration of this critical issue at the global climate change debate in Copenhagen," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2009)

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