A panel of scientists warned this week that coral and other marine creatures are threatened by chemical changes in the ocean caused by the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels:
Already blamed for a greenhouse effect warming of the climate, much of this added carbon dioxide is dissolving in the oceans, making them more acid.
Such a change can damage coral and other shells and sealife, according to the panel of researchers convened by the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey.
"A most fundamental property of ocean chemistry, pH, is changing and will continue to change as long as CO2 emissions are increasing. That is not debatable," Joan Kleypas, the report's lead author and a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said in a briefing.