The economic costs of ocean acidification and molluscs

Dr Selina Ward, University of Queensland, Jan 20, 2012

The literature on the effects of ocean acidification on the biology of marine organisms continues to grow and now covers a wide range of taxa, regions and ecosystems and is reaching the consciousness of the larger community.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Matthew Ridley suggesting that ocean acidification isn’t a big problem has elicited a strong response from many scientists, especially those discovering the many ways that OA will negatively affect our future oceans.

It is difficult for scientists to convince politicians and other decision makers of the seriously adverse effects of almost anything, if stopping the problem could result in any interruption to our relentless drive to faster growth and development. It is refreshing then to see some economists tackle the questions of a future with ocean acidification and what this could do to business, as there is very little available on the topic. Narita and colleagues assess the economic implications of ocean acidification on mollusc fisheries around the globe in a paper published in the journal Climatic Change this month. There is a good body of evidence on the effects of OA on molluscs so the authors have used this (particularly using the meta-analysis data in Kroeker et al (2010) ) to perform a partial-equilibrium analysis to estimate costs of production loss.  They suggest that the costs for the world could be over $100 billion USD by 2100 with a business as usual emission trend combined with the assumption of increasing demand for molluscs with expected income growth. This is calculated without considering the cephalods (the class which includes squid and octopus).

This study has obvious implications for climate change policy. Hopefully it will be the first of many papers exploring the economic effects of OA.

Narita D., Rehdanz K., & Tol R. S. J., in press. Economic costs of ocean acidification: A look into the impacts on shellfish production. Climatic Change doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0383-3. . Article

Kroeker KJ, Kordas RL, Crim RN, Singh GG (2010) Meta-analysis reveals negative yet variable effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms. Ecology Letters 13:1419-1434

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