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Blog Tags: Copenhagen Climate Conference

Dr. Jeff Short on Acidification

As leaders in Copenhagen fumble toward an agreement in the final days of the conference, a leaked U.N. report concluded today that global emissions could exceed a terrifying 550 p.p.m. and temperatures could rise a dangerous 3 degrees Celsius, or more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit. But hey, no pressure, guys...

Hubculture interviewed our Pacific science director, Jeffrey Short, a few days ago. The answers he gives in the interview below are also pretty sobering. Let's hope our persistent messaging on ocean acidification has made an impact as the final hours of the summit approach.

 


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Global Shipping: More CO2 Than Germany

This is the ninth post from our team in Copenhagen. Check out the rest of the posts here. - Emily

Oceana has been working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the global shipping industry for three reasons. One, the industry is a major source of emissions -- over a billion tons of carbon dioxide per year -- which is more than what is released annually by Germany, the sixth ranked country in the world. 

Two, these emissions are completely unregulated: They were not controlled by the Kyoto Protocol and no country regulates them. And to top it off, there are excellent operational changes and technical changes that ships can make that could substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions as much as 75% -- some of which can be done at no cost, or with a very short payback period.   


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Staying Warm

This is the eighth blog post from our team in Copenhagen. See the others here. - Emily

Here we are in the last days of the conference, and parties are frantically trying to agree to a text and civil society (at least parts of it) are being frozen out of the process. The secretariat has massively reduced the number of NGOs allowed in the conference center and today some entire delegations, including Friends of the Earth, were denied entry.

Good news: Oceana was able to get in, and we're still here talking about ocean acidification and it's impacts on the ocean.


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The Oceans Get Their Day in Copenhagen

Jackie Savitz speaks on Oceans Day in Copenhagen.

This is Jackie's seventh post from the Copenhagen climate conference. Read the others here. - Emily

One sore point in the Copenhagen process for some us is the lack of focus on our oceans. By raising ocean issues at every opportunity we hope to begin to remedy the historic lack of attention they have recieved. As the second week of the two-week meeting began, Oceana partnered with dozens of like-minded organizations to co-sponor an international "Oceans Day."


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Acidification Panel Redux

Oceana's chief scientist Mike Hirshfield, second from left, talks ocean acidification.

This is Jackie's sixth post from the Copenhagen climate conference. Read the others here. - Emily

Ahhh, Saturday. Sleep late, read the paper over a long cup of coffee, go for a stroll in the park. Any other Saturday perhaps, but not when you're attending the most important environmental meeting there is. Instead, Oceana was hard at work, pulling together some of the top marine scientists anywhere to do what we came here to do -- tell the world about ocean acidification.

By eight o'clock, we had pulled together a star-studded panel including Dr. Vicki Fabry, well known for her research on those elegant little salmon snacks known as pteropods. You know, the ones with the dissolving shells you have seen in so many of our materials? Scripps Institue of Oceanography also put forward Dr. Andrew Dickson, who explained the "simple" chemistry involved, and it was all kicked off by Dr. Tony Haymet, Scripps' Director.

Based on the other side of the pond, but also part of our Copenhagen team, we heard from Dr. Carol Turley, who discussed the biology of acidification - the effects on corals and other marine life. Turley's colleague Kelvin Boot shared a fun animation developed by kids to tell the story about acidification.

And batting cleanup was our own Dr. Mike Hirshfield, Oceana's Chief Scientist and Senior VP for North America. Mike did a great job putting all the science in perspective so that we could talk about the policy changes that are needed to save our oceans.

Mike pointed out that we need to stabilize our atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 350 parts per million in order to prevent the impacts on coral reefs and so many other animals in our oceans. He warned that allowing levels to get above 450 will spell disaster, and that we absolutely should not exceed that level. The solution: shifting to a clean energy economy, with solar and wind replacing oil and coal, as soon as possible. We had an excellent discussion about this with many questions from the audience, and all in all, a very good day's work, if I say so myself. Especially for a Saturday.


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Drilling Secretary Salazar

Oceana's Jackie Savitz asks Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar a question in Copenhagen.

This is the fourth in a series of posts from Copenhagen. Check out the rest here. - Emily

Secretary of Interior Salazar spoke here in Copenhagen about the great work that the Department of the Interior is doing to advance carbon reductions. He also promoted things like carbon sequestration and clean coal technology, which are basically really expensive, long-shot strategies for getting carbon out of coal emissions and getting carbon back underground where it belongs. He also noted that we could get 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030, and that the Danes, our hosts, were already doing so!

The Secretary's timing for being here was great -- he had just opened up one of the most productive areas of Alaska to exploratory drilling, a mistake that was not lost on some of the Alaska natives who were there and were very quick to ask him about the Chuckchi decision. (Read more about Oceana's reaction to the decision.)

I was lucky enough to ask the Secretary a question as well, which he deferred to his Deputy, David Hayes. I asked him the following: With all this interest in stopping carbon emissions and sequestering carbon below ground, was he considering as part of the solution just leaving some carbon in the ground by making expanded drilling into previously protected areas, like the west coast of Florida, off limits?  I pointed out that doing so would make resources that would otherwise be used for drilling available to help develop the offshore wind he referred to earlier.


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Oceana Front and Center

Oceana's Jim Ayers speaks at a Copenhagen side event.

Jackie's third dispatch from Copenhagen. Read the others here. -Emily

On the first day of the climate conference in Copenhagen, Oceana was front and center, getting an early start in raising awareness about ocean acidification.

We hosted what's called a "side event," which is an opportunity to learn and discuss an issue of interest. We teamed up with the US State Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as our friend Sven Huseby, the star of the hit documentary "A Sea Change" for our event. We had excellent turnout and Oceana speakers, Dr. Jeff Short and Jim Ayers, did an excellent job along with the other speakers. 

We also set up an exhibit that will run the full length of the conference. The exhibit is in partnership with some of the foremost scientific institutions working on oceans: Scripps Institute of Oceanography, where many newbie marine biologists like myself only dreamed of studying, as well as the Plymouth Marine Lab and POGO, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans. Our exhibit provides one-stop-shopping for ocean acidificatoin information, with our report, Acid Test, available in English as well as Mandarin Chinese!

We also have a globe projection that shows the trends in ocean acidification in the world's oceans. You have to see it to believe it. This exhibit has allowed us to attract considerable press attention and stories have been written in The Ecologist, The Chirstian Science Monitor and others.

We've also been featured on climateone.net with our Washington-based scientist Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb doing an interview broadcast live over the internet.  We hope to keep the momentum going in the days to come.

Help us by taking action and let the chief negotiators of the four largest emitting countries know you want them to stop ocean acidification.


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An Ocean of People

This is Jackie's second post from Copenhagen. Stay tuned for more and read the other dispatches.  - Emily

It's an ocean of people here at the International Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Like schools of fish, we are all swimming upstream and down in hopes of catching our elusive prey, climate negotiators who hold the power to preserve our otherwise quickly degrading habitat to make sure it's here in the future for the small fry. 

The Bella Center, where we are working, is a diverse ecosystem consisting of individuals from nearly every country of the world, rich and poor, those set up high in the mountains and in low-lying island nations. Many of these countries have sent a diversity of interests: business, industry, government, journalists and importantly those of us committed to preserving our environment, who in United Nations-speak go by the name of ENGO's or Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations.  

The Oceana team is here in the name of ocean acidification -- a growing problem for our oceans that threatens massive extinctions of corals and major disruptions of other ocean ecosystems if we don't find a way to stop pumping carbon dioxide into our air.
 
We've teamed up with some of the foremost scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, POGO and the Plymouth Marine Lab to get that message out. We have a library of information and a full time exhibit where delegates to the convention can pick up materials and learn about ocean acidification. We hope that this information will re-energize negotiators and help make sure they devise and commit to a strong agreement that will save our oceans and all the life within them.


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Arrival in Copenhagen

Jackie Savitz with one of Oceana's new ads in Copenhagen.

Our team of campaigners arrived in Copenhagen several days ago. Senior campaign director Jackie Savitz sent this first dispatch. Read the rest of the dispatches here. - Emily

On our arrival at "O-dark-thirty" in the morning, we were greeted in the airport by a series of advertisements, but not the kind you may be imagining. These ads featured a lobster, an oyster and a scuba diver, each bearing a similar message.  "The price of a lobster in 2050: 350 part per million." The price of the oyster and diving vacation is the same. The meaning may not be entirely obvious, but that's the point. These are ads that Oceana posted in the airport to greet incoming conference attendees.

We took out these ads to let people know that if we don't manage to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million soon, we may not have lobsters, oysters or dive vacations in 2050.  Hence, the price of making sure we have those things later this century is the price of achieving that target - leveling off our carbon emissions and then reducing the atmospheric level to 350 parts per million.

How on earth are we going to do that? Well, it's true it won't be easy, and it won't happen by accident. It will take a concerted effort by all of us, individuals and governments, to shift away from the use of fossil, or carbon-based, fuels.  We can only do this by developing and putting to use alternative fuels, like wind and solar energy.  This is what we mean by "shifting to a clean energy economy."  

Tens of thousands of people are expected to travel here to Copenhagen for this United Nations Conference and many of them will come in, just as we did, through the airport. They too will be greeted by the signs.  Train riders and some drivers will see the same ads on the Copenhagen metro system and on a large "jumbo board."  This is another way Oceana is bringing ocean acidification to Copenhagen in an effort to save the oceans.


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