I am very disappointed that the Herald printed a wildly incorrect opinion letter from Russ Stabley of Fort Lauderdale, concerning the acidification of the oceans, without a clarifying explanation.
Stabley says “Thus a small change in pH from a little above 8 to a little below 8 just means the oceans are becoming closer to neutral, not more acidic.” This is blatantly false.
The Herald owes it to its readers not to leave such misinformation out there without a footnote with the accurate facts. A change in pH from 8 to 7 is a tenfold increase in the acidity of the water, not a small change, because the pH scale is logarithmic and not linear. The measured pH of the ocean has changed from 8.25 in 1751 to 8.14 today, which is about a 30 percent increase in the acidity of the seas (or the concentration of H+ ions).
This is not a small change. It is a huge change, and having a “neutral” pH of 7 would mean the death of most, if not all, marine life, because the chemistry of life depends on the pH of its environment.
This is why when we have large releases of (more neutral pH) freshwater from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River on the east coast, or the Caloosahatchee River on the west coast, it is accompanied by massive fish kills, destruction of sea grasses and death of other marine organisms. Marine life needs the higher alkalinity to allow larval corals to form base plates to attach to their substrates, to allow fish to form their skeletal structures, to allow larval sea shells to form their shells and to allow numerous other organisms to carry out basic biological processes.
We are dependent on maintaining a healthy ocean, because it produces a large fraction of the oxygen we need to exist.
Stabley has a right to his own opinion on the oceans, no matter how misinformed he is, but the public has a right to get the accurate facts. Please educate your readers.
Michael F. Chenoweth, president, Florida Keys Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, Key Largo