The acidification of the Earth's oceans, which climate scientists warn is a dangerous effect of continued carbon emissions, was behind a mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to a new study.
"We show ocean acidification can precipitate ecological collapse," Michael Henehan, who led the study, told The Guardian.
Researchers examined shell fossils in sediment dating back to the time period just after the meteorite struck the planet, which showed that the oceans' pH dropped by about 0.25 units in the 100 to 1,000 years after the strike.
Today, climate scientists warn that the continued burning of oil, gas, and coal is causing ocean acidification that, left unchecked, could cause a pH drop of 0.4 units.
If policymakers are able to help limit the warming of the globe to two degrees Celsius by ordering that fossil fuels be left in the ground and shifting to a renewable energy economy, the ocean's pH level could drop just 0.15 units.