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.
yes! public demand, or public interest. The public would feel no need to know/act about/for ocean acidification if it does not directly influence them.
I like the added point that there are so many other issues in the world, so to many ocean acidification seems fairly low on the list compared to those other problems.
Yes we can continue to education the public, but with what youre saying (and what I said) that it is about public demand/interest, if the people still wont be affected by ocean acidification, I feel they STILL wont have the understanding of how much ocean acidification is impacting ecosystems.
The way that you expressed the difficulties of animating people “on a subject that is not affecting them currently” by comparing the lobbying of ocean acidification to the lobbying against poverty, crime, and low standards of education was very effective. Doing this helps show the idea that it is hard to get people interested in ocean acidification because they may not be affected by it in everyday life. This technique is easier to understand that presenting multiple facts and figures and adding the risk of confusing your audience.
I strongly agree with your point about people not taking action since it does not affect them.
At the same time though, I feel that people do not have to completely change their lifestyles to make a difference; as you said, we should start by educating people about the issue but even small changes by everyone is enough to make that difference.
I also agree with your statement that many people would not care about ocean acidification since it does not directly affect them and is a more long-term problem. I agree that it is difficult to motivate people to live more sustainably and it will definitely take time to shift towards a more sustainable society.
Nicely written, Barbara!