The Beacon: Caroline Wood's blog
“We must connect with generations past, generations present, and generations future and weave a thread of balance and wisdom for our planet. Forget borders, forget the elements that separate us. We have done our damage, we now have the power to undo and together, join hands and build a path that sustains us all.”
The Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group of seven Republican governors representing Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina, will soon have its first Democratic member: Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
More than 60 people (and one adorable dog) attended a lively rally last Wednesday outside the State House in Annapolis, Maryland. The mood was festive and ripe with anticipation, as attendees held signs, listened to several speakers, and spoke to the press. Oceana handed out dozens of lawn turbines and one attendee was spotted wearing a home-made, 5-foot tall windmill on his head! It certainly made a powerful visual statement.
The event was organized by the Marylanders for Offshore Wind Power Coalition, of which Oceana is a member, and was held just prior to a hearing in the state’s Senate Finance Committee on the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013. As we posted recently, the bill would jumpstart the offshore wind industry and create hundreds of jobs in Maryland. These are great steps toward a clean energy future!
The Coalition is made up of Maryland environmental, faith, business, and other community groups working together to secure offshore wind energy off of Maryland’s coast. The Sierra Club, the NAACP, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Interfaith Power and Light, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, and University of Maryland students spoke at the event.
This month, in the midst of the 18th UN Climate Change Conference (COP-18) in Qatar, the World Bank released a report titled “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided.” The report, already causing a buzz in the global community, paints a grim picture of what the world might look like if global temperatures reach 4°C above preindustrial levels.
The report states that without intensive mitigation and global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, we will reach the 4° threshold by the end of the century, leading to the inundation of low-lying and island communities, extreme weather including drought and flooding, severe losses to biodiversity, and global instability due to displacement and famine.
But the report also details the dangers of ocean acidification, often referred to as climate change’s (equally evil) twin. Carbon dioxide emissions, the root cause of both climate change and ocean acidification, fundamentally change the chemistry of the ocean. Increased carbon dioxide uptake by the ocean increases the acidity of seawater, which threatens corals, plankton, oysters, cuttlefish, and other marine organisms that build shells. Ocean acidification is dangerous for many marine species and it is happening right now.
In the projected “4°C world,” the oceans will be 150 percent more acidic than preindustrial levels. This type of rapid, anthropogenic change in ocean chemistry is likely unparalleled in Earth’s history and could eliminate entire ecosystems, including coral reefs. If CO2 levels reach 450 ppm (corresponding to a global warming of about 1.4°C), coral growth could stop altogether.
The loss of coral reefs would be catastrophic for the ocean and the millions of people who depend on reefs for food, income, and protection against coastal floods and rising sea levels. The bottom line: marine life and those that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods will suffer as global temperatures rise.
In the foreword, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim writes, “A 4°C world can, and must, be avoided.” Oceana is working hard to make sure solutions like shifting from dirty energy to clean, offshore wind power and regulating carbon dioxide emissions are part of the international movement to prevent ocean acidification from further impacting our oceans.
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Caroline Wood is the Clean Ocean Energy Intern on Oceana's Climate and Energy Campaign
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