The Beacon

Blog Tags: Ocean Acidification

Belize's Reef Fails Health Class

Last week in Belize, reef scientists, conservationists and managers gathered at the Belize Reef Summit to discuss the impacts of increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. The 2010 Belize Reef Report Card, which was released at the meeting, reveals that 60% of this protected reef is in poor to critical condition with only 8% considered in good condition. This staggering statistic is unfortunately the case for many coral reefs worldwide.  

On the final day of the summit, hundreds of Belizeans and international supporters gathered on an island on the Barrier Reef off of Belize City to create a living work of art to raise awareness about the effect of climate change on the oceans. This striking photograph was a call for world leaders to take strong action against climate change and ocean acidification at COP 16, the UN Climate Talks in Cancun that begin November 29th.


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Sam Waterston Testifies on Ocean Acidification

Oil isn’t the only pollutant pouring into the oceans these days. There’s another big one, only it’s much more insidious and widespread: carbon dioxide.

Today Oceana board member and actor Sam Waterston will be on Capitol Hill urging Congress to take action to stop ocean acidification.

Last year, Congress passed the Federal Oceans Acidification Research and Monitoring Act, which created an ocean acidification program in the federal government. Waterston will call on Congress to fully fund and implement the program.


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Aaron Peirsol Joins Climate Rally

aaron peirsol

On Sunday, amid performances by the Roots, Passion Pit and John Legend, Oceana spokeswimmer Aaron Peirsol spoke at the Earth Day Climate Rally on the National Mall here in Washington.

Ocean acidification is a real threat, as is overfishing,” he told the crowd. “New drilling must be forestalled while other invaluable, sustainable alternatives such as wind energy adopted. Today, I'm helping here by speaking and partnering with the ocean conservation group Oceana.

Together, we created Race for the Oceans, an open water swimming event that raises money and awareness toward ocean conservation. We also created Racefortheoceans.org, an online forum for swimmers and conservationists alike.”


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Earth Day Blue Link Bonanza

planet earth

Happy Earth Day!

Since there’s so much going on today, here’s a list of things you can do right now to protect the blue marble we call home. Enjoy!

1. Support a ‘safe zone’ for Pacific leatherbacks.

Tell the government to expand critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles to more than 70,000 square miles off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Comments are due tomorrow, April 23, so please voice your support today.

2. Take action with Sigourney on ocean acidification.

Sigourney Weaver is testifying before a Senate Committee today on the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and our economy.

You can take action too -- tell your representative to support a Congressional resolution that will support policies to study and address the effects of ocean acidification.

3. Stop expanded offshore drilling.

An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded Tuesday, in what could be one of the country’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past 50 years. Seventeen people were injured in the blast.

Tell your senator today that you won’t stand for expanded offshore drilling.

4. Bid and text for the oceans.

Today is Christie’s Green Auction, which benefits Oceana, Conservation International, NRDC and Central Park Conservancy. Check out the online auction items, or for a cheaper option, you can text “GoGreen” to 20222 to make a $10 donation today.


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New Study: Ocean Acidification Occurring Rapidly

Some sobering news for the oceans this Earth Day. A new congressionally requested study by the National Research Council concludes that “the chemistry of the ocean is changing at an unprecedented rate and magnitude due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions” and that “the rate of change exceeds any known to have occurred for at least the past hundreds of thousands of years.”

The study finds that the oceans have absorbed about one-third of total carbon dioxide emissions over the past 200 years - which has made the oceans more acidic - and the acidity will continue to rise because CO2 emissions are rising too rapidly for the oceans to cope.

Ocean acidification, says the report, can disrupt important physiological processes in marine creatures, such as shell and skeleton building, internal fluid and tissue pH maintenance and carbon fixation in photosynthesis.

And while we don’t yet know the ultimate consequences for ecosystems, we do know that coral reefs, fisheries, protected species and other valuable natural resources are at risk.

The bottom line here is that ocean acidification will continue unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are substantially curbed -- Take action today by telling your representative to support further research on ocean acidification.

Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is a climate scientist at Oceana.


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Oysters Feel the Burn of Ocean Acidification

oyster

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday, a few of us attended a staff briefing on Capitol Hill on ocean acidification and fisheries put on by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

There were representatives from the fishing communities of the Pacific Northwest, the Gulf of Mexico and Maine. They were requesting that additional resources be channeled towards ocean acidification research so that we can better understand how fisheries are and will be impacted by rising ocean acidity.

The Whisky Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Oregon has already experienced massive collapses in their oyster stocks due to rising ocean acidity, and they’ve been doing a lot of research on their own to monitor changes in pH. Their representatives called for a comprehensive system of measuring pH so that they and other hatcheries can adapt to changes and not be driven out of business by ocean acidification.   

This group of fishers also recognized that while it is important to figure out ways to adapt to the changes that are already happening, without a true cap on carbon dioxide and serious decreases in emissions, these fisheries will not have a future.

 [Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is a marine scientist at Oceana.]


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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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