The key to influencing policy is public demand, and this is the reason why ocean acidification is not addressed politically. Very few people are even aware of the concept of ocean acidification, let alone arguing for change in Congress regarding the subject. The people who do recognize ocean acidification tend to group it with climate change and the melting of the icebergs- as just another inevitable side effect of global warming. Although related to global warming, ocean acidification has its own set of implications on the ocean ecosystems, and consequently, on our own sustainability. If these implications were communicated effectively to the public, it would almost ensure the hasty implementation of policy regarding ocean acidification. However this is essentially the problem: it is extremely difficult to animate people on a subject that is not affecting them currently.
When comparing lobbying against ocean acidification to lobbying against poverty, crime, low standards of education, it is hard not to ask the question, “Is it even right to be thinking of such a seemingly menial issue when so many problematic issues surround us in our daily lives?” It is hard to prioritize these current issues in Congress, let alone something that might affect us years later. Although it seems logical to want to fix first what you are directly faced with, in the case of sustainability this characteristic is a human fallacy. Unlike other problems, unsustainability does not sit stagnant until it will be dealt with. The fact that humans continue to live unsustainably is causing associated problems (global warming, ocean acidification, freshwater depletion, land degradation) to constantly grow worse. Although the pH of the oceans are not yet causing mass fish disappearances, or the falling apart of coral reefs, the point when they will also will be the point of no return.
People have access to research on ocean acidification, to documentaries such as “A Sea Change”, and to many other forms of public information, and most people that take advantage of these recourses are left with a feeling of discomfort, a feeling that something should be done. However, in most cases very little is done to “fix” individual levels of sustainability after that point; this forgetfulness is human nature. But there are instances of hope in the few people that change their entire lifestyle upon realization of implications of living unsustainable. If the proportion of such people that decide to place the Earth’s well-being over the mass concerns of the everyday would increase enough to influence policy, it would consequently cause a slow, but organized and executed, migration toward sustainable living. All we can really do though is continue to try to educate and immerse the public with ocean acidification literature and hope for the best.
It is surprising that the majority of the general public is not familiarized with something as hugely affective as ocean acidification. The lack of information is just making matters worse for our health and safety, since people just wait until things get significantly bad before they start to take action. At that point, it could be too late to make an effective change. Ocean acidification is the rise in carbon dioxide and lowering of pH levels and it is increasingly damaging our oceans. More people need to be informed about this predicament. Resources that people are exposed to daily should take the opportunity and spread awareness about ocean acidification. Schools, media, and various types of propaganda can be used to help raise awareness. When people know more, they have a higher chance of taking actions that are needed to have resolve problems.
There have been some sources from the media that have tried to inform people about ocean acidification. Sven Huseby’s A Sea Change was a documentary that he created to help people fully understand what ocean acidification is and how it is affecting our world. There have been few instances where ocean acidification has been mentioned in the news, including ABC’s story on Ocean Acidification Hitting Northwest Oyster Farms, in April of 2010. Otherwise, there is not enough coverage on ocean acidification. Not everyone has heard of Huseby’s movie or watches the news everyday. Even when people watch the news, they may not catch a particular story that is only aired once. The news should take more action and try to continuously expose this growing dilemma to the public so they can take action and not forget about that story they ‘once heard’ about ‘something happening to our oceans on television.’ Newspapers and magazines can play a part and write more about the effects of ocean acidification. They can show scientific studies and findings, including predictions that scientists have made about what our oceans will be like in a few years, and what will happen if no action is taken to help reduce the rising carbon dioxide levels in the oceans. The internet is a strong source that people are exposed to everyday. Advertisement and certain sections on main web pages such as Google or Yahoo! could site sources and links of websites that help inform people and explain to them how they can take action. Many websites already have significant amounts of information about ocean acidification, and they should be presented to the public and informed that these sources are always available.
Awareness can be spread through school systems as well. Teachers can inform students whether it is mentioning facts about ocean acidification before class everyday, or teaching an entire class on ocean acidification. It does pertain to science, so why not have a discussion about it in science class? Teachers can inform students, who can pass on the information to their parents and friends. Schools can hold discussions or projects that encourage students to help spread awareness across town. This can possibly consist of posting flyers or using local newspapers to talk about the consequences of ocean acidification.
Even the smallest efforts can really help inform people about ocean acidification. It all starts with one step, and when one person takes action, it can start a chain reaction. The media and school somewhat play their roles in informing the public, but more needs to be done. People need to be continuously informed to the point of irritation. Even at the risk of an exasperated public, it is much better than the alternative possibility of panicking after worse events have occurred. There is always a solution when everyone makes the effort to take actions and inform others.
Yanjun Anna Liu’s article, Touched by God: A Neural Basis for the Pentecostal Spiritual Experience attempts to reason the miracle of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) through a neurobiological base, without diminishing the Divine aspects traditionally associated with this phenomenon. This paper clearly started with extensive research, as Liu refers to numerous sources from a wide variety of publication genres throughout her text. The images are appropriate as they break up the body of the text. The paper begins by describing the origins and history of glossolalia, starting at the bible and moving forward to detail the start and development of the Pentecostal movement- Liu uses the Agnes Ozman as a central figure to transition between the different sections of the paper. Next, the paper moves to the scientific aspects of the Pentecostal Spiritual Experience (whilst continually referring back to Ozman, and also the religious counterpart to the science) and describes this development as transitioning through time. Finally, Liu examines the theories of neuroepistemology combined with neurobiological and neuropsychological ideas to summate her overall theory. The article transitions naturally from one point to another, and concludes itself in a way that is not only entirely comprehensible, but also satisfying to the reader.
Touched by God combines the conventionally conflicting ideas of science and religion in a spectacularly successful manner. Her article combines these two fundamentally opposing schools of thought in a manner that does not patronize or belittle either one – she ‘sits on the fence’ in the most positive meaning of the term. Without committing to either side the paper comes across as far more intriguing than if it had been a simple argument for one side of the argument.
When compared to a Writing20 piece, there are several differences. First, this piece is clearly longer and more in depth than the 2500 word essays we are asked to write, and goes into great detail. Second, this is not written for a specific audience and so remains accessible to all, even if the reader has no previous knowledge of either the Pentecostal movement or of neurobiology. The tone is formal, but again still uses layman’s terms before using the genre specific vocabulary to avoid making assumptions of any prior knowledge. In the Writing20 pieces we have written, more specific knowledge has been assumed as we have been aiming our writing at an audience who reads scientific journals etc.
In crises that society faced throughout history, people tend to ignore distant problems that do not show up in front of their eyes. Americans shrugged off the threat posed by the Axis powers in World War 2 until the Japanese attacked American soil at Pearl Harbor. Al-Qaeda, an organization barely publicized before the 21st century, suddenly dominated the minds of every airline passenger for years after the 9/11 incident. The same indifference towards hidden but dangerous threats could be said about the way ocean acidification is viewed today.
For the majority of the world’s population who don’t see the ocean on an everyday basis, ocean acidification is a problem shoved aside for others to take care of. Even policymakers are guilty of this indifference and apathy. Governors from inland states such as Kansas or Minnesota would be very hesitant to shell out taxpayer money to decrease carbon emissions to protect crabbing industries in Maryland. The root of the inaction about ocean acidification is that individuals not connected with marine activities in any way, recreationally or vocationally, perceive no apparent harm towards themselves.
But their perception of a lack of danger is errant. Ocean acidification can have significant secondary repercussions beyond declining fishing revenues. As argued in my perspectives article, a debilitated fishing industry may very well precipitate a recession in a national economy and even on the global economy as well. Once workers in the fishing industry are displaced, they would need to cut back on consumer spending, such as a purchasing new Xbox 360 or a laptop. Across the board, every industry, from electronics to clothing, would suffer a hit due to declining fishing industries. A very similar phenomenon occurred with the recent global recession, where a housing market crisis in the United States negatively impacted economies of nations across the globe. If the world’s citizens don’t care at all about the aesthetic value of having pristine coral reefs or other marine habitats around the world, they should at least realize that their own small-businesses are at risk of suffering a financial hit along with fishing industries.
This notion that everybody will be affected by ocean acidification, even through cascading effects, needs to be publicized. This way, when voters express high interest about environmental protection, Democrats and Republicans alike will be forced to face this issue and plan to address it in office. When writing up policies, there needs to be careful attention towards making sure that every factory, no matter the geographic location, shares the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide emitted from a Nebraskan firm will eventually diffuse throughout the entire atmosphere and maybe dissolve in the waters of the Indian Ocean, negatively affecting fishers in Bangladesh. Because the threat of ocean acidification is relevant for a wide range of people, the solution to fix it must be concerted as well.
Anthropogenic noise pollution is dramatically altering the home of millions of marine species. Commercial shipping, seismic exploration and drilling for oil and gas, and the use of sonar for military purposes are making the oceans an increasingly noisy place. Ocean acidification is putting a megaphone to such practices by decreasing the concentrations of sound-absorbing chemicals such as borate and carbonate1. The current trend of increasing anthropogenic carbon emissions and noise pollution is unsustainable. We have to change our behavior before our impact on marine biodiversity becomes irreversible.
While the focus of media attention regarding anthropogenic noise pollution has been on marine mammals, hearing can be an equally important sense for fish as well. Sound travels faster in water than air, and perhaps as a result, many types of marine organisms have developed hearing as a primary sense for navigating through the murky depths. Recent studies have shown that fish grown in water with high levels of CO2 lost their ability to avoid reef noise2. This represents a severe impairment of natural sensory responses necessary for predatory avoidance, reproduction, feeding, habitat selection, navigation, and communication.
The inner ear structures of many fish are composed of aragonite, and are thus susceptible to decalcification as a result of ocean acidification3. Although the impact of this phenomenon on fish hearing is not fully understood, it demonstrates that the consequences of anthropogenic carbon emissions are far reaching. It may never be possible to assess the total impact our lifestyle is having on our environment.
Fishing is a 60 billion dollar industry. Over 100 million tons of fish are consumed each year, providing 2 billion people worldwide with at least a fifth of their average animal protein intake4. Aggressively polluting the environment of organisms so crucial to the survival of our own species is masochistic. How can we justify exploiting the oceans to satisfy current demand if it means sentencing future generations to a world with scarcer food sources?
Several things could be done to improve sustainability. The increase in commercial shipping over the last few decades itself has contributed to a 12 dB increase in ambient ocean noise5. Diverting shipping lanes away from organism-rich ocean zones would help limit the impact of noise pollution on marine animals if curbing the amount of shipping itself is not possible. Marine protected areas have been successfully instituted to shelter cetaceans from anthropogenic noise polluters6. Such guidelines require strict enforcement and must be expanded to protect fish and invertebrate species. Seismic exploration of the ocean floor involves the use of airguns, or underwater cannons that eject compressed air every ten seconds. Such sounds can propagate far beyond the source, causing tissue damage and deafness in thousands of organisms7. Countries need to develop ways to conduct such surveys that minimize such environmental casualties. Ocean acidification will continue to intensify the ill effects of anthropogenic noise pollution by decreasing seawater sound absorption and decalcifying fish ear structures unless something is done to reduce carbon emissions.
Liu’s article begins by giving the historical background of the Pentecostal movement, which originated from Agnes N. Ozman in 1900. Ozman, a student at Bethel Bible College in Kansas at that time, began experiencing intense, spiritual revelations not unlike those experienced by the New Testament’s apostles. This lead to documented accounts of Ozman speaking in tongues, which was quickly adopted among Ozman’s peers. In her paper, Liu uses the application of neuroscience not to disprove the possibility of such supernatural abilities, but rather demonstrate that the subjective experiences of those speaking in tongues are a reality. Delving into the sub-topics of neurophysiology, neuropsychology, and neuroepistemology, Liu draws from modern research about the brain to construct her model about how these euphoric states can be achieved by those speaking in tongues. For example, Liu cites neuroimaging studies done where specific circuits in the cerebral cortex were activated when modern- day Christians were observed while practicing glossolalia, another term for speaking in tongues. Without entering the discussion about the existence of a God, Liu masterfully highlights the neurological basis of religious experiences such as glossolalia.
Throughout her article, Liu certainly engages in the works of others very thoroughly. Liu uses testimonies from the story of Ozman, frequently quoting the exact words Ozman used to describe her own religious experiences. From the scientific perspective of this article, Liu incorporates plentiful primary research experiments that really solidify and verify Liu’s arguments. What was really remarkable about Liu’s article was how original of a claim she was making. Typically, religion and science are adversaries in the ring of debate, ranging from topics such as the origin of the world to abortion. But Liu has actually merged the disciplines of science and religion in a cooperative manner when she explains the neurological basis of speaking in tongues. Liu’s ability to unite science and religion in a constructive manner is a truly novel and inspiring feat that should be adopted among other hot topics as well.
One similarity I see among Liu’s article, my perspectives article, and academic writing in all genres is that the writer must base his or her claim on previous reliable sources but cannot simply restate what has already been said. An article with minimal research and reliable sources offers no evidence and support for the author’s claim. However, an article that regurgitates previous knowledge about a topic serves no purpose because it offers no new ideas. This is a fine line that the authors of any academic papers must keep in mind in all stages of writing.
A technique that I used in my perspectives article that would be inappropriate for Deliberations is the heavy reliance on a few sources. The first half of my paper centered on one particular study about vulnerabilities of national economies to climate change. The intent of Deliberations is to publish articles that thoroughly researches the entire topic of which it is about. Using such a small number of sources in my perspectives article would definitely limit its scope.
Compared to global warming and climate change, ocean acidification is still a less familiar topic to the general public. Although there has been increasing coverage in the media, such as newspaper and magazines, about this ongoing environmental issue, many people are still not aware of its causes and consequences. Since people by nature tend to pay more attention to immediate and tangible effects of certain issue, we can safely guess that even fewer people truly understand that ocean acidification compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem, threatening the survival of our future generations. Given this lack of awareness, we can hardly expect any major policies or social movements coming up to tackle this problem. Therefore, I believe the first step to solving the problem of ocean acidification in long-run is to raise the public’s awareness about how it can reduce marine sustainability and lead to decline of well-being of human beings in the future.
So far, there has been an uneven distribution of information about ocean acidification among different groups of audience. Scientists who specialize in ocean chemistry may know how acidification can lead to less sustainable ocean ecosystem in every detail, whereas people living in the interior part of the country whose sore relation with the ocean is buying fish from the supermarket may not have even heard about ocean acidification at all. The problem is that scientists usually publish their papers on scientific journals such as Science magazine, whose target audience are other scientists. Only a small portion of the general public will read those journals and the contents are often too professional for layman to understand. This hinders information flow from scientists to the general public, results in less effective communication between them and reduces understanding about ocean acidification among the public.
Here, we can try to figure out the solution by reviewing how global warming and climate change have become so well-known to public. It is not difficult to realize that the popular media, politicians and education actually played a huge role in ensuring strong presence of the two issues among the public. Al Gole’s Inconvenience Truth presented global warming to the public in an impactful way. Mainstream media such as CNN and BBC regard climate change as a hot topic to draw the public’s attention. Global warming is included in most of the textbooks when talking about greenhouse effects. It is through these ways that the general public is kept in contact with the information about the two issues.
Similarly, I believe raising the public’s awareness about ocean acidification requires efforts from politicians, popular media and educational sectors. Scientists should take the responsibility to first make the policy makers fully aware of the problem of ocean acidification, so that they can possibly become strong advocates. Mainstream media should also focus more on sustainable ocean ecosystem and introduce ocean acidification as a serious environmental issue that will affect our future to the public. Besides, more knowledge about how ocean acidification may cause less sustainable ocean ecosystem can be included in textbooks to make the issue known to our young generation, building solid foundation for solving this problem in the future.
As more research is done on ocean acidification it is becoming ever clearer that the majority of marine organisms are going to be increasingly negatively effected as the pH of the ocean drop.
Thus, with most of the marine life being affected than any interaction humans have with the ocean will also be affected. Incomes based on marine tourism will fall to next-to-nothing if all coral reefs disappear, and with them the plethora of exotic organisms which currently attract many people globally; Communities based around (subsistence) fishing will be affected if the fish they are rely on for food and income start to decrease in size, as they will then need to increase their catches; international fishing corporations will have to utilize more and more dramatic methods to harvest the thousands of tonnes of fish they are currently accustomed to providing to a fish-hungry world, and this in itself will only lead to further destruction of habitats.
These are only a few examples of what will probably happen over the next few decades, and not a single change sounds sustainable.
If we (as a planet) wish to keep the oceans as the valuable resource they are currently, then a lot of work needs to be done, and fast. One major obstacle is publicity; Ocean acidification is not a well-known problem. Global warming is caused by many of the same factors, and has an impact that is in the same league as ocean acidification, but the widespread knowledge of the two is incomparable – nearly every single person with some sort of education will have heard of global warming, where practically the reverse is true for ocean acidification! This problem is probably one of the most important. If the majority of people were to be educated about ocean acidification and it’s severity then it would be a fairly straightforward next step to press for immediate action. There are enough scientific studies in existence (and presumably countless more being currently undertaken) to convince the majority of sceptics that ocean acidification is truly happening, and a huge problem. This is where ocean acidification differs from global warming, which even now is still viewed as somewhat of a controversial issue.
Once the educated public knows of an issue as dire and immediate as ocean acidification clearly is, it is a (relatively) simple matter of creating pressure groups to demand change at a policy level of the government – whether this be increased investments to the scientific communities to come up with more ways to combat ocean acidification, or stricter goals set on cutting carbon emissions, with the appropriate change in pace to accommodate these goals with any sense of realism.
It may be too late to save some of the most delicate of species in the ocean, but if this issue were to be taken seriously by the global population, then it is definitely not too late to start making changes.
The data is clear. Ocean chemistry is changing in a way that appears to be negative for almost all associated with the ocean. The pH is decreasing and not coming back up unless people change the way they live and companies change the way they work. Without change, coral reefs and other calcifying organisms will face a serious threat. Scientific studies show a clear, direct relationship between the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean and the acidity of the ocean. American companies have a history of operating in the best interest of their company no matter the environmental consequence. The most effective method to have companies change the way they operate is to make it either illegal to do what they are doing or create a substantial enough monetary penalty that it would make it less profitable to continue to operate in their current manner. The only people able to force these actions upon companies are the members of the United States Congress.
Politicians have no interest in upsetting company unless it will sway public opinion of them. The only way the general public cares about a current issue is if it is all of the news. The media essentially controls the policy agenda in the United States. When big news corporations, like Fox or CNN, decide to run big stories on issues such as global warming or nuclear waste, people become aware enough to care. This is when politicians take interest and want to be there to please their constituents. Laws are passed to fuel reelection campaigns rather than social movements. Simply put, politicians become interested in sustainability when it effects their ability to sustain their seat in Congress.
Ocean acidification has yet to make a big and permanent splash in the elite media. Without this kind of press, no serious changes will be made to United States ocean protection policy. Luckily, the root of ocean acidification is the same as global warming, which has become a hot button issue through the assistance of former Vice President Al Gore. Some discussion and even legislation has happened as a result of this media attention. The bulk of carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. This can sometimes be tough to cut down on while sustaining economic success. Automotive companies have recently made gas mileage a big issue because of increasing gas prices. Customers could no longer afford to use vehicles with low gas mileage. This customer demand made it profitable to invest in their research and development departments in order to produce vehicles with much better gas mileage. Companies and policy makers act in their own best interest not the environments. This approach to business and government can not be sustained for much longer. Unless there is serious change in the way people behave, the world will not be able to handle all of the stresses being put on it.
Climate change is a difficult issue to resolve because the effects of human’s actions now do not have an immediate effect on the planet and therefore on many individual’s lives. It is easier for most humans to respond to issues directly affecting their livelihoods as opposed to those affecting other groups of people or future generations. Reducing emissions, the only currently feasible solution to climate change, requires a lot of personal sacrifice and increased costs. It is hard to motivate some individuals to make these sacrifices because they do not necessarily have to face the consequences of their actions.
This phenomenon is even more significant with ocean acidification, a subset of the greater climate change issue. The ocean is almost a separate world from the world in which most humans live. Beyond fishermen, few people’s livelihoods depend directly on the oceans, and most people are unaware of the more subtle ecosystem services the oceans provide. For example, coral reefs not only provide the habitat for many species of fish that can then supply fisheries, they also provide coastal protection from waves. This is not a connection that most people make, and therefore many people are unaware of the importance of the ocean and its inhabitants. However, in addition to the lack of awareness, there is a lack of urgency about the changes occurring.
This lack of urgency is partially due to a lack of publicity about the issue, and partially due to the lack of information about the specific effects of ocean acidification. Even within the scientific community, few people have even heard of ocean acidification, let alone are aware of the consequences humans are facing if conditions are not reversed. Public media focuses on the direct effects of global warming, such as melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Ocean acidification has yet to make a big appearance in these medias, and therefore there is little awareness about the issue. In addition, current research has been unable to fully predict all the consequences of ocean acidification, especially at an ecosystem level. The effects are very species specific, so it is very difficult to predict how the ecosystem will shift due to the death and growth of different species. This contributes to the absence of ocean acidification from public media because there is a lack of specific information that the public can respond to.
If ocean acidification is to stop, the public and policy makers must be informed about ocean acidification and motivated to find a solution. This could be achieved through an increase in media coverage of the issue or in general increased knowledge about environmental issues and conservation among policy makers. Further research will reveal more specific consequences of ocean acidification, which could be linked to human livelihood to help inspire change. Scientists and environmentalists have to eliminate the invisibility of the issue if any major action is to be made towards solving the issue.