As the first week of the sixteenth meeting of the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16) draws to a close, Oceana is releasing a new report on climate change's evil twin: ocean acidification.
Ocean Acidification: The Untold Stories details new findings for many different species of marine life that will be affected by a more acidic ocean. Coral reef ecosystems will be some of the first casualties of an acidified ocean; impacts to these beautiful and important habitats could have huge consequences for a quarter of the entire biological diversity of the oceans that depend on coral reefs for food and shelter.
Marine life ranging from the smallest plankton to the largest whale may be affected by ocean acidification. Shellfish such as sea urchins, lobsters, sea stars and brittle stars are some prime examples of creatures that could be affected. More acidic oceans are expected to lead to a shortage of carbonate, a key building block that these animals need to build their shells and skeletons.
As ICCAT continues this week in Paris, we have a new report out today that ought to get the delegates’ attention. Our report estimates that more than 1.3 million highly migratory sharks were caught in the Atlantic Ocean during 2008 -- and without international fisheries management.
Of the 21 sharks species reported to be caught in ICCAT waters in 2008, three quarters are classified as threatened with extinction in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Yet sharks remain all but unmanaged by ICCAT, with the exception of a weak finning ban and a prohibition on retaining bigeye thresher sharks.
And what’s more, Oceana scientists believe that 1.3 million sharks is a gross underestimate. In 2008, 11 out of the 48 countries that participate in ICCAT did not report any shark catches and current shark catch data in ICCAT is generally acknowledged to be inadequate at best. In fact, scientific estimates based on Hong Kong shark fin trade data have shown that real shark catches in the Atlantic may be more than three times higher than what is reported to ICCAT.
We’ve told you this before, but in case you need a reminder: If global shipping were a country, it would be the sixth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Only the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan emit more carbon dioxide than the world’s shipping fleet. Nevertheless, this country-sized amount of carbon dioxide remains unregulated.
Like all modes of transportation that use fossil fuels, ships produce carbon dioxide emissions that significantly contribute to global climate change and ocean acidification. Besides carbon dioxide, ships also release a handful of other pollutants that contribute to environmental degradation. More than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to ocean-going ships, a number that can be greatly reduced if emission regulations were set.
Oceana recently released a new report called Shipping Solutions - just in time for the Sustainable Shipping meeting in October. At the meeting, Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz spoke to a room full of shipping industry executives to call for increased shipping emission regulations, and present the many different ways these reductions can be achieved.
What are healthy fisheries worth? What, then, are healthy oceans worth?
Well, we’d argue they’re priceless, but a new report quantifies their value, and it’s no small change.
The first comprehensive, peer-reviewed estimate of the global social and economic contribution of fisheries was recently published online in four papers. In the report, scientists from the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre quantify the value of the world’s fish, and calculate the loss of both revenue and dependable protein sources from overfishing.
Here are a few highlights from the report:
*Global fisheries, a vital source of food and revenue throughout the world, contribute between $225-$240 billion per year to the worldwide economy.
The answer is blowing in the wind, and we have a new report to prove it.
Oceana’s new report, Untapped Wealth, is a comprehensive analysis that shows how focusing our investments on clean energy like offshore wind would be cost-effective, more beneficial to job creation, and better for the environment and ocean in a variety of ways than offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
Here are a few of the key findings from the new report:
*Delaware, Massachusetts and North Carolina could generate enough electricity from offshore wind to equal current electricity generation, entirely eliminating the need for fossil fuel based electric generation.
* East Coast states such as New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina could supply 92%, 83% and 64% of their current electricity generation with offshore wind, respectively.
After the Deepwater Drilling Disaster began 17 days ago, we’ve all tried to figure out why we should continue to expand drilling offshore.
For those who think it’s because it will help us achieve energy independence, think again. There is no way that we can drill our way to energy independence – and the government knows it.
Right now, we get about 65% of our oil from other countries, the biggest sources being Canada and Mexico. And government studies show that all the oil in US waters wouldn’t change that figure much. It would only lower it to about 60% at best. A government study expected to come out soon shows that even that much is unlikely.