Ocean acidification is a fairly recent topic that has been introduced to the public. Sustainability however, has been seen as compromised since the introduction of global warming and greenhouse gasses. I greatly believe that many members of the audience such as the general public, professionals, and other stake holders have not recognized the interconnection between sustainability and ocean acidification. Ocean acidification occurs because oceans consume a lot of the excess carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere, which in return, lowers the PH of the ocean. The lowering of PH can have detrimental effects on individual species such as shellfish and coral reefs, but it may also have significant malignant effects on an ocean’s ecosystem. For example, during 2007- 2009, Taylor shellfish farms observed a eighty percent decline in oyster larvae reductions (1). Other studies illustrate that an acidifying ocean can cease the development of coral reefs (2). It is apparent that ocean acidification can compromise the sustainability of many species!
Even though I believe that some members of the audience ( general public, and various stakeholders) do not know realize that compromise, I do believe that scientist, fishery professionals and policy makers have had a long understanding of the effects of ocean acidification. Scientist are perpetually conducting research about the effects of ocean acidification on different species, marine ecosystems, and even economies, therefore I am pretty sure that they have recognized that ocean acidification is a potential hazard for sustainability. Fishery professionals are realizing the effect that ocean acidification has on the sustainbility of their fisheries, because their source of income (fisheries) are being depleted by the acidification of the ocean ( as stated earlier by Taylor Shellfishs Farms). The disconnect between the public audiences and the scientist/fishery professionals are the policy makers. Policy makers are constantly being swarmed by scientist about the negative effects of ocean acidification, however the lack of priority that they give the issue has led to the discontinuity between the audience members.
I have written a perspective article that explains what scientist should research and what scientist should present to the policy makers in order to eliminate the discontinuity. Scientists need to introduce the economic impacts that ocean acidification has. Policy makers will be more willing to ponder upon the effects of ocean acidification if their wallet is being effected. With that said, scientists should conduct research to explain any indirects effects that ocean acidification has on the economy through sustainability. Scientists could argue, for example, that ocean acidification leads the the decline of coral reefs, which is a major contributor to the marine tourism industry, which is the largest contributor to the United States’ GDP.
2- Riegl, B., Bruckner, A., Coles, S. L., Renaud, P. and Dodge, R. E. (2009), Coral Reefs. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1162: 136–186.
doi: 10.1111/j.1749- 6632.2009.04493.x.
The issue of ocean acidification is fairly new to many people. Therefore, not many people have a lot of knowledge about the effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem. The majority of the general public do not even know what ocean acidification is. Since the media mainly emphasize global warming and climate change, the public is only aware of these impending disasters. Without the general public to push for enhanced sustainability services, the policymakers do not necessarily address this issue when creating new legislation. Although policymakers have aimed to mitigate climate change and the potential effects of global warming, they have done little to nothing to save the ocean ecosystem. Therefore, they do not clearly have an understanding on how sustainability techniques that will help the ocean ecosystem. Regarding scientists, although they are experts in the field and are familiar with the ocean acidification problem, they usually only have a general idea of this problem and therefore, cannot give adequate solutions to the sustainability of the ocean ecosystem. Scientists seem to be more concerned about the fish and marine life and less interested in the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Also, professionals in the fish industry that strive off selling fish seem very indifferent to the sustainability of the ecosystem. Although they are aware that ocean acidification threatens the lives of fish and other marine animals, they still continue to mass-fish in order to stimulate and run their businesses. Similar to the fish industry professionals, stakeholders who depend on commercial fishing have the same ideologies regarding the sustainability of marine life. With all this being said, it is shown that people do not actually understand the repercussions we must face if we do not create laws regarding ocean ecosystem sustainability.
In order to promote sustainability efforts to the people, the first thing that we have to do is make people more aware of the problems of ocean acidification. A good suggestion would be to teach to students in schools not only the issues of global warming and climate change, but how that affects the ocean and marine life residing in it. In addition to this, students should be taught various ways to help sustain the ecosystem and conserve resources. The students could then go home, apply what they learned, and hopefully, their actions can influence their parents’ habits as well. If this is to work, scientists, as a collective group, have to research ocean acidification in more depth and come up with habits that the general public can and should practice. The media have to do a better job reporting and spreading awareness about this problem. While doing so, they must clearly distinguish this problem from global warming and climate change so that people know that they are doing things to address two different issues. In return, politicians and policy makers must be able to listen to their citizens and create laws that can help sustain the ecosystem. For the people in charge of the fish industry, as well as stakeholders in this business, they have to be able to realize that there are more important things at stake than their business. They have to have new priorities, which mean that sustainability of the atmosphere comes first. If all of this goes according to plan and people are more aware of the effects of ocean acidification, they can do a better job of providing services to sustain the marine ecosystem.
Throughout history, humans have been followed by overhanging problems that inevitably seem to create turmoil and collapse within societies. Ancient Rome faced corruption, Ancient Maya faced an epidemic and collapsed trade routes, and the Han Dynasty faced irreversible social differences within the government, all of which led to societal collapses. Current countries, such as the U.S., seem to be in similar situations to these late societies, with daunting problems that build upon each other and create a figurative Goliath. In a speech given by the infamous Michael Scott, head of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper, he argues, “America is facing five Goliaths! Al-Qaeda. Global warming. Sex predators. Mercury poisoning. So do we just give up?” Despite naming only four so-called “Goliaths”, Mr. Scott alludes to the point that America seems to be one of those societies facing numerous potentially devastating issues that threaten the American way of life. It has proved to be challenging enough to find ways to properly allocate resources towards these issues, and more issues keep adding to the list.
What the American society needs to do is address each problem with the same focus they have in areas where we have had previous success. To beat global warming, we need to exploit our success in entrepreneurship. To combat unrest and dispute within the government, we need to use our success in diplomacy. Ocean acidification, a newly recognized issue that Americans seem to have thrown on top of our large pile of problems, needs to be overwhelmed by the amount of successful strategies America throws at it.
America’s strengths have allowed us to become the economic and military superpower that we are today. However, we are per capita the second largest contributor to global warming and ocean acidification in the world. With so much success and prosperity, one would expect that we would be doing more to reverse the bigger problems of the world. We are in fact doing just the opposite by polluting at unacceptable levels, and this must change. By exploiting our ability to advertise, create new businesses, use diplomacy, and provide an example for the world successfully, I think that we will have a chance against daunting problems such as ocean acidification. Otherwise, Goliath will unleash his fury, and we will have to endure the storm.
Different audiences have different levels of comprehension of the fact that ocean acidification compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Much of the general public is still unaware of the large problem posed by ocean acidification, let alone its effect on the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Furthermore, of those that are familiar with the concept of ocean acidification, even fewer realize the multitude of ramifications from the decreasing pH of the world’s oceans. Scientists are of course much more familiar with ocean acidification than the general public, especially those who study the ecosystems of the sea. However, many scientists tend to focus more on the consequences for marine life than the compromisation of the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Although some policymakers are aware of the issues posed by ocean acidification, many seem to focus more on the more widely known issues that gain more public attention in order to gain greater political standing. It seems that major legislation regarding possible remedies for or regulations pertaining to ocean acidification never occurs, so policymakers definitely do not prioritize the effects of ocean acidification of ocean ecosystem services. On the other hand, fisheries must be very aware of ocean acidification’s ramifications, as the lowering ocean pH affects fish populations and thereby the business of the fisheries. Some commercial fishing companies even direct research to determine the extent to which ocean acidification affects their business and ways in which to avoid business disruption.
There are many possible changes that could be implemented in order to further understanding and communication concerning the extent to which ocean acidification compromises the sustainability. Teaching about environmental issues such as ocean acidification in school could raise awareness and interest in younger people and also in their parents. Also, the government could concern itself more with ocean acidification. For example, congress could pass guidelines concerning carbon emissions and other practices that contribute to ocean acidification. Congress could also pass legislation calling for measures to remedy acidification rather than just limit it. In addition to helping stop acidification, the simple discussion of such measures by the government would raise nationwide awareness of ocean acidification and its effects. Additionally, local museums or learning centers could design programs to reach out into their communities and educate the public about the dangers of ocean acidification and how the falling pH of the ocean compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. With a combination of any of all of these measures, public awareness would begin to grow, and the general population would become more interested in the issue of ocean acidification, subsequently beginning to do their own research to learn more and possibly contribute to a remedy for acidification. This new knowledge would also lead to a newfound sense of responsibility that would compel people to try to do their part to save the world’s oceans.
Ocean acidification is a global issue that is just now starting o make its way into the periphery of the public eye despite its very close tie with well known issues such as carbon emissions and global warming. The fact that ocean acidification is not well known may only be true for the general public though. I believe that ocean acidification and its consequences on sustainability are issues that are at least somewhat well known among the scientific, political, fishery, and other stakeholders, but a topic that some would seek to push back behind a veil of the unknown in order to continue to exploit resources in a business as usual fashion.
The fact that ocean acidification is not a well known issue is not surprising. Being a terrestrial species the ocean has always been one of the great unknowns and very little was known about it until recently in the historically spectrum. Because human existence has never truly been reliant or dependent on the ocean, unless one considers trade and fisheries, it is an area that could easily be overlooked in the past. But now the ocean is an integral part of modern society. The ocean provides many resources and services; promoting tourism and leisure through cruises, scuba etc; providing trade routes; economic opportunities for those in the fishery business, not to mention the environmental benefits of heat and carbon absorption. I believe that ocean acidification will be forced into the forefront of issues as these benefits, and especially the economic services, are affected. When ocean acidification begins to decrease the amount of revenue pulled in by the tourism industry due to changing aesthetics and the fishery industry plummets due to the lack of product rendered hen those in charge will have no choice but to acknowledge it as it will be affecting their own pocketbooks. Likewise the politicians will be forced to acknowledge it and speak actively as much of their funding comes from large industries who then hold power over them, such as that of the tourism sector.
Luckily are many ways to promote further understanding and communication of the topic of ocean acidification. I believe that one of the biggest steps to achieving understanding in this and future generations is to begin teaching about the topic in high schools in the nation and around the world, because I know that even in my Oceanography class I had never heard of the phenomenon. By getting the issue included in a textbook or in standard curriculum awareness would likely increase. Additionally this issue would need to be added to the docket of major activist groups in order to raise awareness. And what better way to raise awareness than by getting a highlight of the issue in some sort of documentary available on television or a service like Netflix, in addition to attempting to get a feature of the issue on some sort of nightly news in the feature. By getting the issue into the mass media awareness would increase substantially, which would theoretically lead to greater understanding.
For the general public, when the phrase “environmental problems involving carbon dioxide” is mentioned, global warming is likely what first comes to mind. The average person may not know or care enough about environmental issues to have even heard of, let alone be well informed of, ocean acidification, the other carbon dioxide problem. While it might not seem necessary that general, non-scientist, citizens should know about ocean acidification’s background and effects, it is in fact very important, because the more people there are that are well-informed, the higher the chances are of stopping or at least lessening the effects. It has been and will continue to be hard to bring awareness to the public knowledge about ocean acidification and its many dire effects. However, the media must take on this challenge and do its best to present the facts correctly and effectively, so that a proper response is elicited from the public.
This can be done, as the media has done an impressive job of thoroughly informing the public about global warming. In fact, there has even been some speculation (according to a CBS news blog by Brian Montopoli) that the media is perhaps hyping up global warming. The Environment and Public Works Committee Communications director stated that “Senator James M. Inhofe believes that poorly conceived policy decisions will result from the media’s nonstop hyping of ‘extreme scenarios’ and dire climate predictions.” Whether it may be by overemphasizing the consequences of global warming, the end result is that the general audience is well-informed and is aware of need for and the methods pertaining to solving the problem of global warming. Similarly, the media must convey the urgency and need for action in regards to ocean acidification. This task is decidedly harder than that of presenting global warming, given that ocean acidification’s effects (taking place thousands of meters below sea level) are practically unfelt to humans.
Another critical task that the media must tackle is giving the general public the means by which they can help. It would be pointless to garner the attention of so many people, without presenting them with opportunities through which they can contribute to the sustainability of the ocean ecosystem. By publicizing specific new alternative energy methods and innovations, the public will be more likely to feel like they are contributing to an important cause, as opposed to one that will die out in a few years.
In addition, by informing and heightening the interest of the common people, the media will indirectly be affecting the decisions of policymakers. Policymakers generally strive to cater to the interests and opinions of the public, and by attempting to please people who are interested in positively contributing to the solution for ocean acidification, they will institute favorable policies. Thus, the most effective way of communicating to different audiences that ocean acidification is inhibiting the sustainability of the ocean ecosystem is through the media’s strong hold on the public’s knowledge and opinions.
While global warming and ocean acidification are both caused by manmade carbon-emissions, the gap in public awareness of the two issues is immense. Part of this is due to the fact that signs of global warming were studied years before ocean acidification, as well as the medias constant coverage of global warming. I believe the media is more interested in global warming because of the impact it could eventually have on everyone’s daily life. However, what most people don’t realize is ocean acidification could have an equally large impact. Ocean ecosystem services are an enormous part of our planet’s food supply, economy, and recreation. With ocean acidification occurring at an increasing rate, many of these services may be lost before everyone even realizes what is occurring.
The scientific community is one of the few groups beginning to understand the severity of ocean acidification. Research on the issue has picked up immensely over the last decade, and the results have scientists alarmed. While having data on the issue is critical, scientists cannot do much by themselves to protect the ecosystem services threatened. By working closely with aquaculture managers, however, scientists have the ability to sustain these services in a changing ocean environment.
This combination of aquaculture managers and scientists can work together to adapt to changes already occurring, but to halt the trend of decreasing pH, the general public and politicians need to become more knowledgeable on the situation. For the most part, the general public seems completely unaware of the changes occurring in our oceans. People realize that increased CO2 emissions are doing serious damage to our atmosphere, but have no idea that one-third off all this carbon is soaked up into the oceans. For any meaningful changes to take place, a larger percentage of the public, and in turn politicians, needs to be made aware of the damages ocean acidification can cause. The increase in the public’s awareness of global warming has led to a push towards green energy and other sustainability programs that could ease the burden put on our atmosphere. Yet even with this increased perception of our impact on the planet, no widespread changes have taken effect.
For massive solutions to come into play, politicians must get on board. It is imperative that scientists get the message across about the danger posed by ocean acidification. As of now, there has been very little action by U.S. policymakers to fight ocean acidification. The fact that our book was funded by The National Academies Press, an organization that reports to Congress, is a good sign in that at least some people in Washington have an idea as to what’s going on. However, if ecosystem services are to get any sort of lifeline, politicians must be pressured into taking action, and this action must come from the public.
Humanity has a strong tendency to progress. Sometimes progress is born through a need and other times it is born through a desire. Only after 130 years of constant oil harvesting did humans realize they needed to progress. When we came to terms with the fact that our fossil fuel supply was not bottomless and acknowledged the harm that so much combustion was causing to our atmosphere, we turned to alternative sources of energy. Sources of energy like wind and solar were aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and saving the atmosphere. Because the suns heat and high-low pressure systems will not run out, they support the concept of sustainability. Other well-known sustainability movements like recycling and water conservation were also born from careless overuse of deceitfully abundant resources.
Now, after a few years of research regarding the pH of the ocean, we realize we have created another need for sustainability. Fossil fuel combustion leading to ocean acidification and overfishing are the perfect storm for the destruction of shellfish coral reefs and the entire marine food chain. Much of the “progress” born from the fossil fuel dilemma applies to ocean acidification. After scientists learned about ocean acidification, the push for renewable energy increased and climate change studies intensified. Solutions intended to reverse the affects of ocean acidification have been published but have also been subject to serious critical speculation. Moreover, these suggestions fail to account for the climate overall.
A long term method for combatting both ocean acidification and climate change is alternative energy. A movement already well underway, alternative energy accomplishes multiple goals at once. It reduces fossil fuel combustion, an effect that will stop the destruction of O3 in the atmosphere and CO32- in the ocean. It eliminates the variable cost associated with harvesting oil because windmills and solar panels are mostly autonomous once constructed. It even prevents further environmental disasters like the Exxon-Valdez spill and the Gulf Oil Spill. For these reasons, putting more resources into alternative energy is truly sustainability at its finest.
The ocean has sustained itself for billions of years. The atmosphere has done the same. Now, only 200 years after the industrial revolution, both are facing serious challenges. “Living inside the earth’s regenerative capacity” means understanding that trees can only convert CO2 to oxygen so fast, that fish can only reproduce so quickly, and that oil can only be harvested for so long. In order to promote and exercise sustainability, we have to use all of the earth’s resources instead of exploiting the ones that are limited in yield or overall quantity. This means waterfalls, windstorms, heat waves, sunshine, and ocean waves all have a place in society. Technology has given us the ability to convert almost anything into stored energy. Why rely on a limited supply of oil when the earth has an infinite amount of other resources? We must look to the future in preparation for not only the day when the oil wells run dry but in the interest of finding clean energy before we destroy the ocean and its inhabitants out of negligence.
Ocean acidification is an important issue that needs to be addressed if the sustainability of ocean ecosystems and its services is to be protected. These ecosystems need to be protected because they are home to a wide range of aquatic life. In fact, coral reefs contain the most biodiversity and marine life in the ocean. Sadly enough, it is coral reef ecosystems that are extremely susceptible to the effects of ocean acidification. As the waters become more acidic, calcifying organisms in these regions will have a harder time making their own shells. The services that these calcifying organisms provide are crucial to many industries and for that reason, we must begin to implement policies focused on helping ocean ecosystems survive.
Some previous policies that have been put in place, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, have been helpful in combatting the effects of ocean acidification. These policies, however, were not implemented with ocean acidification specifically in mind, and its consequent benefits towards our oceans were just an added benefit. Instead, they were initially meant to focus on other more public issues such as global warming. While any policy that alleviates carbon dioxide emissions should be welcomed, there needs to be certain initiatives focused solely on reversing ocean acidification. Previous policies do not address all the needs of ocean ecosystems to effectively combat ocean acidification. Regulations made with specific consideration to the growing problem of ocean acidification will better address all facets and intricacies of ocean ecosystems, such as coral reefs. These regulations could do more to improve the conditions of our oceans in the years to come than other policies such as the Clean Air Act, which are more focused on global warming
The primary issue of crafting policy to insure the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services is that ocean acidification is just not understood or acknowledged as an issue by much of the general public. While there is a knowledge base on ocean acidification that is understood by some scientists and fishery professionals, the large majority of the public has not even heard about ocean acidification and do not know that it is a serious issue that will possibly affect aquatic biodiversity. If the general public is not aware of these issues, then policy makers are less pressured to find solutions to these problems. For this reason, ocean acidification and how it affects ocean ecosystem services must first be communicated to the general public before policies and regulations can effectively be created. The documentary, A Sea Change, is a good example of how steps are being taken to alert the public, but a less apocalyptic tone should be taken in the hopes of creating discussion in the public forum. Once this begins to happen, then the shift can be made to forming new policies focused on sustainability of ocean ecosystems and combating ocean acidification.
Individuals in which their livelihoods depend upon the ocean would be more likely to understand the implications that ocean acidification has on the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Fishermen or people in fishery businesses might notice slight declines in the amount of fish or seafood harvested as time goes on. Those people would have the greatest incentive to learn all possible sources of a decrease in their harvest. So, these people should understand that ocean acidification directly affects their products.
However, the majority of people most likely don’t recognize that ocean acidification compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. The main reason for this is not because they don’t understand what is going on, but rather they don’t know about it. Ocean acidification is easily overshadowed by the other carbon dioxide problem: climate change. Ocean acidification just hasn’t received as much public attention as global warming and climate change have. For one, An Inconvenient Truth got massive amounts of attention because of Al Gore and the name recognition. Unlike global warming, ocean acidification currently doesn’t have a spokesman to associate a face to. Publicizing and promoting public awareness is most definitely the biggest priority in furthering understanding and communication.
At some level, the policymakers should have a general idea of what’s going on in our oceans. It is the policymakers’ duty to stay informed and protect the well-being of the society they govern. However, there are most definitely ways in order to further communication and understanding for policymakers. After ocean acidification receives more attention and is viewed as a much bigger problem that we have to deal with, the policymakers will see that ocean acidification is a topic that many people care about. Large public demand to curb ocean acidification would give the policymakers an incentive to take the time to understand and do something about the pressing issue.
The information about ocean acidification that is in circulation right now is somewhat difficult for the average person to absorb and relate to their daily lives. Sure coral bleaching and decalcification of pterapods seems like bad things, but how will that affect me? That’s the sort of mentality many people would have. So in order to lessen the apathy, there should be examples given that explicitly tie ocean acidifications’ effects on the sustainability of ecosystem services to the average person. For example, the prices of seafood would rise, or perhaps many jobs could be lost. Talking about how natural tourist attractions, such as the great barrier reefs in Australia, could disappear is another good way of swaying public opinion.
As such, I believe that the majority of people would have a relatively easy time understanding the concepts of ocean acidification and its effects on ecosystem services. However, it is impossible to combat a problem without realizing it exists in the first place. So, the priority should be spreading awareness to as many people as possible.