The Beacon

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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