Blog Tags: Ocean Acidification
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.
I've been bringing you updates from our folks in Copenhagen this week. Today I've got a brief, but related, break in the action for you. And it's about coral sex.
In this month's issue of Smithsonian Magazine, Megan Gambino follows renowned coral reef biologist Nancy Knowlton to Panama on her annual pilgrimage to watch tropical corals spawn.
Most corals are hermaphroditic "broadcast spawners," which means they release sacs containing both eggs and sperm, synchronizing their spawning with neighboring coral colonies. How do they know it's time to get busy? Scientists think the corals use three cues: the full moon, sunset, which they sense through photoreceptors, and a chemical that allows them to "smell" each other spawning. Pretty phenomenal, huh?
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.
Hirshfield says, “The scientific consensus is unless we change how we manage our fish, we’re looking at potential collapses around the world later this century... It might only be a slight exaggeration to say that in 2100, unless we change how we manage our oceans, all we’ll have left is jellyfish.”
Stay tuned for more Copenhagen updates as the conference progresses.
Oceana sent a group of representatives to the climate negotations in Copenhagen, which officially gets underway today.
So what message will we be sending? Oceana will be presenting a Google Earth tour of the Arctic, narrated by board member Ted Danson. The video tour highlights the impacts of climate change on Arctic people and ecoystems, particularly melting sea ice, ocean acidification and increasing industrialization. You can take the video tour At Google's Copenhagen landing page.
As Danson urges, "The science is sound, the law is clear, and the need for policy change is indisputable. The United States must take immediate action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to protect the public health and welfare of the Arctic and ultimately, the planet. We must also takea precautionary, science-based approach to decisions about industrial activities in the Arctic. That way, we can ensure that the Arctic ocean, and the resources it provides, are there for future generations."
In the 100 days leading up to the climate conference in Copenhagen, the British Embassy here in DC has been showcasing one person a day who is taking action to stop climate change. Yesterday, Day 95, Oceana's own campaign director Jackie Savitz was featured. Here's Jackie's 100 second video:
In a definitive victory for the Arctic, the government released final regulations protecting almost 200,000 square miles of U.S. Arctic waters from industrial fishing.
The new regulations, which close all U.S. waters north of Alaska’s Bering Strait to commercial fishing, will be effective starting December 3, 2009. The closure will allow for more time to assess the health of Arctic ocean ecosystems and the potential impacts of large-scale fishing given the impacts the Arctic is already facing from climate change and ocean acidification.
And don't forget the looming threat of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. Last month the government approved a plan for drilling in the Beaufort Sea next summer, and a similar plan for the Chukchi Sea is currently under review with a decision expected this month.
Conservationists, scientists, and local communities agree that the science-based precautionary approach we have achieved with industiral fishing should be replicated with oil, especially given the higher risks of oil spills in the Arctic and the inability to contain, control or clean up an accident in the icy waters of the Arctic.
Congratulations to everyone who helped make this happen!
The current acidification level hasn't been seen for at least 800,000 years, and acidification is coming on 100 times faster than at any point for hundreds of thousands for years. The levels are alarming. The rate of change makes them even scarier, because it so restricts the ability of sea creatures to adapt.
In contrast to the debate that continues about the causal relationship between this or that weather event and human activity, there is no debate about the source of ocean acidification. The change in the chemistry of the ocean is a man-made event, plain and simple, and the consequences of its continuing rise in acidity will belong squarely to us.
It will make for some uncomfortable moments around the dinner table when our children and grandchildren ask, "What did you do in the [climate] war, Daddy?" If we don't recognize the ocean's warning, the first cataclysm from man-made carbon dioxide emissions that will get our attention will be the collapse of the oceans.
If we do recognize the warning, the oceans are ready to be a solution. Power in the tides and waves is there to tap. Offshore wind power is a technology that's ready to go right now, near the great population centers on our coasts, where it's most needed.
Happy fall Friday, everyone! Here’s your weekly ocean news roundup…
...The House of Representatives’ vote of 29-14 moved the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act out of committee and brings the U.S. closer to reducing mercury pollution. We’ve been working tirelessly, lobbying on the Hill and asking our Wavemakers to contact their Representatives. There is more work ahead but this is a solid step forward.
...Climate change remains a hot topic, but a lot of Americans are cooling off. According to a recent study, only 57 percent believe there is solid evidence that the Earth is getting hotter. This is a drop from 77 percent in 2006. And only a third believe global warming is tied to human activities. Perhaps a milder summer has people thinking we aren’t warming up, but don’t mix up weather with climate – snow falls on a warming planet.
...As the lowest lying nation, the Maldives have vested interest in rising sea levels due to climate change. Maldivian government officials figured they should get used to a watery world and held a meeting underwater, asking all countries to reduce their carbon emissions.
And with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (Dec 7 - 18) just around the corner, this year's theme is especially relevant.
Check out featured climate posts today at http://www.blogactionday.org/ and take action with them to stop climate change. Also, next week, 350.org is hosting the International Day of Climate Action -- check out the site to learn more about how you can get involved.
So one way or another, today's a good day to find a way to do your part, no matter how small it may be, to save our planet from catastrophic climate change.
- Photos, Video: Oceana Wraps Up Canary Islands Expedition after Discovering Vast Biodiversity Posted Mon, October 20, 2014
- CEO Note: Wyss Foundation Paves the Way for Oceana to Rebuild Fisheries in Peru, Canada Posted Wed, October 22, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Seafood Fraud Ring Uncovered in Australia, Fish Species Found to Change Skin Color, and More Posted Fri, October 17, 2014
- Ocean News: Sea Turtle Nesting in Florida Sees Steady Increase, 2014 Could Be Hottest on Record, and More Posted Tue, October 21, 2014
- New Shark Repellent May Keep Sharks from Becoming Bycatch Posted Wed, October 22, 2014