Our Buildings Are Killing Our Oceans

Carbon is more deadly than many other toxic substances we fret about. And acidification might be more of a problem than climate change.

Most building professionals are painfully aware of how devastating climate change already is, and how catastrophic it will rapidly become if we fail to zero out our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the next two decades (see this month’s featured topic). But possibly irreversible changes are also occurring in the world’s oceans as a result of acidification—a decrease in the oceans’ pH level caused by rapid increases in atmospheric carbon.

Marine chemists estimate that average ocean pH has dropped 25% since the beginning of the industrial era, when humans began burning fossil fuels at an accelerating pace. Oceans acidify because carbon from the atmosphere dissolves in water as carbonic acid—the same compound that makes soft drinks bubbly.

Published April 4, 2016

Melton, P. (2016, April 4). Our Buildings Are Killing Our Oceans. Retrieved from