When a molecule of carbonic acid (H2CO3) dissociates, the two products are a bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) and a hydrogen ion/proton (H+). Because of the addition of a hydrogen ion, this process causes a decrease in the pH of the blood, and if someone breathes too slowly and doesn't quickly remove CO2 from their body, respiratory acidosis will take place.
However, why is it the case that the addition of this hydrogen ion lowers pH? While this might sound like a stupid question, it's also the case that the dissociation of carbonic acid produces a bicarbonate ion, which is a weak base. Therefore, the dissociation produces both an acid and a base in a 1:1 ratio. Therefore, the concentration of hydrogen ions relative to bicarbonate ions doesn't actually change. Given this fact, wouldn't there be no change in pH at all?
I read a paper on carbon dioxide transport which addressed some of my other questions but didn't touch on this precise point.