The dramatic change in ocean chemistry -- unprecedented in the past 800,000 years-- was an Earth Day topic on Capitol Hill. Our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute played a major role, as did actress Sigourney Weaver, a star of Avatar and narrator of the documentary film Acid Test that details this growing threat to ocean life.
The setting was the U.S. Senate subcommittee in charge of ocean issues, chaired by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell. (She's the co-author, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine,of legislation that would cut U.S. carbon pollution 83 percent by 2050.)
Witnesses -- scientists including MBARI's Jim Barry, a commercial fisherman, a scuba diver and Ms. Weaver -- largely agreed that ocean chemistry is shifting, becoming more acidic, and that the consequences are bad news for ocean food webs and coral reefs.
Oyster farmers in Washington state are already noticing the effects. Now the prestigious National Research Council has concluded that the problem is real, and happening at a rate we've never seen before.
Ocean acidification is one of the critical issues we address in our new special exhibition, "Hot Pink Flamingos." The new report lends urgency to the need for people to reduce our carbon pollution -- in our own lives, through our individual choices, and by acting together in our communities.
You can read the full testimony of witnesses, and watch an archived webcast of the hearing, here. If you want to see Acid Test, it's available online as well as on DVD. Or watch the 22-minute film now: