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Since Ocean Acidification is becoming more of a severe problem, can us people take the CO2 from the H2O and make it more purified instead of leaving it as H2CO3?
Question Date: 2017-08-24
Answer 1:

As far as I understand, you are proposing to reduce the amount of H2CO3 from the water by removing CO2 from the water and leaving H2O. Yeah, so why can we not just take the CO2 out of the water? This is a very good, and important question.

Let me tell you that there are ways to take CO2 out of the water but maybe you allow me to ask a question back to you: If you could take the CO2 out of the ocean, where would you put it? There is so much of it, that you cannot just put it into a container and put it somewhere into your garage. You will have to do something BIG. So, there are several options:

Put the CO2 into the atmosphere: You could think about putting the CO2 into the atmosphere but there are two problems.

• First, you may have learned that we have too much CO2 in the atmosphere. Because of this CO2, the earth is getting warmer. Therefore, ice on the north pole and south pole is melting, there are more big storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires. So, we do not want to have more CO2 in the atmosphere.

• Second, the CO2 in the atmosphere and the CO2 in the ocean are in a “balance”. That means that if you take CO2 from the ocean and put it into the atmosphere, the CO2 will just go back into the ocean. So, you will have to put it somewhere else.

Put CO2 underneath the earth - into the rock: People are working on taking CO2 from the atmosphere and putting it deep underneath the earth into rocks. This will bring CO2 out of the atmosphere and then out of the ocean (because atmosphere and ocean are in a balance). This is a good option but it is not enough.

Use the CO2 in the ocean to make rocks: Have you ever seen a rock that is called “limestone”? There are a lot of limestone rocks on the earth and this rock has several minerals in them that contain CO2. For example calcite: (CaCO3). If you can make more limestone in the ocean, you can take CO2 out of the ocean and people are thinking about how to do this. For example, if you can put more Calcium (Ca) into the ocean, that will cause the calcium to take CO2 from the ocean and make CaCO3 (limestone). This is something that people are thinking about. But then, the next question is, where does the Calcium come from? Maybe you can find it out?

The problem with all these techniques is that the ocean and the atmosphere are so complicated that you don’t always know what will happen if you mess with it. What happens if you put more calcium into the ocean? Will this be a problem for the fish and other live in there? The best option will always be to make less CO2. For example, use cars that make less CO2 and use energy from the sun and from wind instead of coal and oil.

Keep thinking about this! The CO2 in atmosphere and ocean is one of the biggest problems that we (including you!) will have to solve in the next 100 years!


Answer 2:

H2CO3 constantly changes back into CO2 and H2O, just as CO2 and H2O constantly change back into H2CO3. This is called an equilibrium. By removing CO2 from the atmosphere, we could thus remove H2CO3 from the oceans, because the oceans would replenish the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, getting CO2 out of the atmosphere is no easy task. It took millions of years to form all of those fossil fuels that we have been burning, and it will take millions of years more for the oceans to restock them.

H2CO3 can also be removed through carbonate precipitation: the minerals calcite and aragonite (both CaCO3) can get the carbon out of seawater, but doing so requires calcium to use them up, and that calcium has to come from somewhere. Even so, this takes hundreds of thousands of years. Technological means of carbon sequestration (removing CO2 from the atmosphere) are being worked on, but they're not ready yet.


Answer 3:

The 'good' news is that a lot of the ocean acidification comes from CO2 in the air, so everything we are doing to reduce CO2 also helps the ocean.

Also, marine life will adapt somewhat to more acidic oceans - we don't know how much they will adapt yet. Here's an encouraging statement from a good scientific article: "an emerging body of evidence suggests that the impact of rising CO2 on marine biota will be more varied than previously thought, with both ecological winners and losers."

Here's the link to the article: Doney 2009

The other thing this article says is that we need to reduce atmospheric CO2 to reduce ocean acidification - we can't just cool the earth by putting particles in the atmosphere, for example.

That's all I'm finding - ocean CO2 [i.e., H2CO3] comes from atmospheric CO2, so we need to keep working on reducing atmospheric CO2 levels.


Answer 4:

I think your idea is in good direction and shows that you are concerned about the environment. I have two points that I want to share with you. The first and most important is that the H2CO3 formed in the ocean or water is meta-stable. Basically it is a dynamic process and H2CO3 will decompose into H2O and CO2 at the same time. So if there is less amount of CO2 in the air, then there would be less H2CO3 formed.

The second point is that our ocean is dominating our planet, it would cost a lot if we do what you suggested. So in short, if we release less amount of CO2 into the air, the Ocean Acidification problem would be solved automatically.



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