Acidification of Oceans may have been involved in a mass extinction 200 million years back which killed off half of the marine life on Earth. And we already are aware that the oceans today are becoming more and more acidic. In such a case, one obviously asks: What will happen next and what can we do about it?
“We don’t know what’s going on in our oceans, which is the scary part,” said Peter Diamandis, CEO of XPrize, on “CBS This Morning.” “Because what we do in the next 10 years affects what happens in the next 10,00 years. Unless you can measure something, you can’t change it.”
Which is the reason why Diamandis awared a prize money of 2 million dollars from Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health Xprize to a team from Montana which discovered a way to reliably measure the pH (power of Hydrogen, meaning the measure of acidic or basic level in a substance) of the sea in a cost-efficient manner.
“This is a really important issue because 30 percent of the emissions that we put into the atmosphere are absorbed into the oceans,” said Wendy Schmidt, benefactor of the eponymous award. “We’re changing the chemistry of the ocean and that changes all life in the oceans.”
It destroys coral reefs and makes it tough for jellyfish to make shells, which ultimately causes disturbances in food chains and interferes with a global ecosystem which provides the primary source of protein for 2 billion people over the globe and 50% of the oxygen which we inhale.
Out of the 70 teams competing for the prize, 18 of which delivered hardware, Sandburst Sensors, a small Montana company with just nine employees won with a technology which could precisely measure the pH of the ocean for a cost which is much lesser than anything else before it.
Their sensors were put through the paces in three months of lab observations, a month-long performance exam at the Seattle Aquarium and a real-world deep-sea trail 100 miles away from the coast of Hawaii.
“Our goal is finding problems on the planet that have market failures, that are stuck,” explained Diamandis. “What should we be able to solve that we’re not?”
“We put up these prizes and ask innovators to solve them. We say, we don’t care where you’re from, you solve this problem, you win the cash, we all win a better world.”