Ocean Currents » obama http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 27 May 2016 15:06:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Reducing Carbon Pollution is Good News for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/03/reducing-carbon-pollution-is-good-news-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/03/reducing-carbon-pollution-is-good-news-for-the-ocean/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:46:32 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10602

© 2013 Rick Friedman/Ocean Conservancy All Rights Reserved

You might have heard the news today that the Obama Administration released its final version of a rule called the Clean Power Plan. Years in the making, this rule from the Environmental Protection Agency aims to reduce emissions from power plants – the biggest emitters of carbon pollution – by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. We hear a lot about how carbon pollution causes our planet’s atmosphere to warm, and as a result, droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather events, are becoming more frequent, dangerous and costly to Americans and many others around the world. But what does carbon pollution mean for the ocean?

Actually, it means a lot. The ocean absorbs about 25 percent of the carbon pollution we put into the atmosphere. As a result, the ocean is roughly 30 percent more acidic now than it was prior to the Industrial Revolution. Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest lost up to 80 percent of their oyster larvae (baby oysters) due to acidification in 2006-2008 and some growers nearly declared bankruptcy.

But ocean acidification isn’t the only threat our coastal communities face from carbon pollution. It is also causing the ocean to get warmer – sounds like a good thing, right? But a warmer ocean means some fish and crustaceans are shifting their range. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than anywhere on earth; lobstermen in Maine and New England are starting to see their catch move north. In Maine alone, the seafood industry is worth an estimated $1 billion dollars and critically important to coastal communities. This begs the question: What will happen to those fishermen and communities as the ocean continues to change?

Many coastal communities are doing what they can to address these threats at the local and state level. States like Washington, Oregon, California, Maine and Maryland are looking at reducing local coastal pollution that can end up in the ocean and make acidification worse. In Maine, local groups are working with fishermen to diversify their catch as the ocean changes. But more must be done to reduce emissions. For the sake of our coastal communities and the millions of Americans who depend on a healthy ocean, the Clean Power Plan is a very good thing.

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UPDATE: The Ocean in a High CO2 World http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 17:29:06 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6189 polar bearsPresident Obama’s plan to address climate change is a step in the right direction on the long road toward making real progress in reducing carbon pollution. There is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we are already seeing the impacts. It’s urgent, and we must act now.

The Arctic is experiencing the effects of climate change more than anywhere else, with air temperatures warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Water temperatures are rising and seasonal sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace.

As we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it, becoming 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.

There is something we can do about it. The ocean should be at the center of our solutions to the rising threat of carbon pollution. You can learn more about Ocean Conservancy’s work on this issue in my blog, The Ocean in a High CO2 World:

It’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive—it sustains much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us. The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a dynamic equilibrium to ensure that life can thrive.

One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, and in turn, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no uncertainty or doubt about this; it is a simple and eminently replicable chemical process.

Several of the comments posted by our readers on my last blog focused on this growing concern. My answer to those comments is this: overall there is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.

It is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if CO2 concentrations keep increasing under the current “business as usual” scenario. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce calcium carbonate, with immeasurable effect on the entire food chain.

We’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat and on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine. In the weeks and months to come, we at Ocean Conservancy will dive deeper to take a very hard look at carbon pollution. For instance, what impact might the Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, have on the ocean? It’s a vitally important question to answer.

At Ocean Conservancy, we understand that the ocean is not just a victim—it must be the part of the solution. The way we manage the ocean and the decisions we make about fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s continued ability to sustain life.

As we explore this critical issue, we will do so from an “ocean-centric” point of view—we must determine what management decisions and policies we can inform and work on with fishermen, shippers, drillers, windmill builders and oceanographers that can transform ocean health.

We would love to hear from you on this.  There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.

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Four Things the Election Tells us about the Ocean’s Future http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/four-things-the-election-tells-us-about-the-oceans-future/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/four-things-the-election-tells-us-about-the-oceans-future/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 20:17:48 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3492 As the dust begins to settle after what felt like a never-ending election season, Ocean Conservancy is gearing up for our policy work to begin again in earnest. Our approach isn’t about which party is in charge, it’s about finding solutions for a healthy ocean, wherever they may come from. Here are a few initial reactions and issues to be on the lookout for following the 2012 election:

1. President Obama is good news for the Ocean. In his first term, President Obama established America’s first National Ocean Policy, calling for a forward-thinking, cooperative and pro-conservation approach to the decisions we make about the ocean. His positions on science-based conservation, ending overfishing, rebuilding depleted fish populations, and clean energy are all things we can look forward to in a second term. We can expect that under President Obama agencies like NOAA, Interior and EPA will continue to be true ocean defenders if Congress gives them the resources they need to succeed. Granted there is room for improvement in the Arctic.

2. No one benefits from politicizing the ocean. The President can’t save the ocean on his own. And the still-split Congress means there’s a chance for more gridlock. Because a healthy ocean means a healthy economy, there’s no good reason to politicize ocean conservation. Just last week we were talking about the Washington Post’s look at how ocean policy has begun to creep into electoral politics in some places.

3. We need more ocean heroes.  We are very pleased to see strong voices for the ocean like Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island win reelection.  But we also saw the retirement of some ocean defenders this year, like Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressman Norm Dicks. One way or another, funding for ocean programs will be under the microscope in Congress.  Retirements and committee term limits means there will be a game of musical chairs going on to determine who gets the chance to lead on ocean issues on Capitol Hill.  We need to convince leaders in both parties to stand up for the ocean and it’s never too early to tell your public officials you care about a healthy ocean.

4. We need to put on our hip waders and roll up our sleeves. More than two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, there is still a staggering amount of work to be done. Congress passed, and the President signed a plan to direct BP’s Clean Water Act fines to Gulf restoration, but that money doesn’t become available until there is a resolution of the case against BP, either through trial or a settlement.  And now large areas of the East Coast are facing a prolonged recovery period from the super-storm Sandy. The storm was a stark reminder of the fragility of our coastlines and the importance of making smart decisions about where to develop and what to protect on our coasts. Fisheries disasters were declared in New England, Mississippi, and Alaska — across the country we are ending overfishing and rebuilding depleted fish populations but there is still work to be done to ensure a prosperous future for fish and fishermen.

The elections, of course, matter. But in many ways our game plan would be the same regardless of who won. The ocean is facing unprecedented challenges, and continues to provide unprecedented opportunities for a thriving country and healthy planet.  What’s mentioned here is simply the tip of the iceberg. We will mobilize citizen advocates to facilitate change and protect the ocean for future generations. We are committed to supporting efforts that benefit the people who depend on the ocean for food, jobs and recreation. We will champion the best in science-based solutions to tackle the largest ocean conservation challenges we face. And we will partner with unexpected allies to develop cross-cutting innovations that lead to lasting change.

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