The Beacon

CEO Note: The Basic Solution to Ocean Acidification

At long last, a Congressional committee is poised to approve sweeping climate and energy legislation this week. The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R.2454) calls for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 and an 83 percent reduction by 2050. While Oceana believes these targets should be strengthened, they are still a giant step forward in global efforts to combat climate change.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the bill’s passage would be a significant milestone for protecting the health of the oceans.

We need your help now. Please take a moment to call the House Energy and Commerce Committee and urge passage of H.R. 2454. Tell them to pass a strong version of this bill to protect our oceans and put America on the path to a clean energy future. You can call the Committee directly at 202-225-2927.

As we speak, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of the oceans. Ocean acidification, the nasty, under-reported cousin of climate change, is set to wreak havoc on the entire ocean if emissions aren’t curbed, and soon.

Here’s how it works: the oceans absorb an enormous amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which reacts with sea water to produce carbonic acid, reducing the amount of available calcium carbonate that corals and marine life such as crabs, lobsters, clams and oysters depend on to produce their skeletons and shells.

Scientists agree that ocean acidification, if allowed to continue, will be devastating for corals. Leading coral reef scientist J. E. N. Veron recently told Oceana that if we don't drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the next 20 years, by the middle of the century there will be no coral reefs developing anywhere due to ocean acidification. There is no time to waste; we must start reducing emissions now.

And now is our moment.

As Paul Krugman wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, “After all the years of denial, after all the years of inaction, we finally have a chance to do something major about climate change.”

If the House Energy and Commerce Committee approves the bill, it will move to the floor of the House. If passed, it will send a strong signal to the Senate, President Obama and the world that the United States is serious about addressing climate change.

The bill as it stands is by no means perfect, but it’s far better than no bill at all. Please help by asking your member of Congress to pass a strong version of this bill that protects our oceans and puts America on the path to a cleaner energy future.

Without serious, mandated reductions in carbon emissions, we are looking at the death of the world’s coral reefs, which spells disaster for the millions of creatures – and humans – who depend on them.

[Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana].


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