There is no doubt about it, ocean acidification will have wide spread consequences for many organisms, ecosystems, and people in the immediate future. However, people do have a chance to reduce the oncoming effects of ocean acidification. With research in fields such as alternative energy we can reduce both the amount of natural resources that we consume and the amount of waste emissions (primarily CO2) that we produce. If people are serious about pursuing sustainability then there is an immense amount of research that must be done.
There are many different types of renewable energy that will be able to contribute significantly to the cause of sustainability. One of the most promising types of renewable energy that is currently in the development and small scale use stage is wind-based energy. Companies are currently building wind farms, large groups of wind turbines in locations, mainly plains and mountains, that have abundant wind resources. Looking to the future, wind-energy companies are developing floating turbines that can go on global coastlines and will have the ability to produce more electricity than current world energy grids can even handle. However, because of its inconsistency and reliance on weather in some areas (mostly the land, off-shore winds are almost 100% consistent) wind-energy is not the only solution to the electricity sustainability problem. Another large component of the growing renewable energy industry is solar power. Solar technology has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade. Not only have solar cells becoming far more efficient, but technology is also allowing for them to be able to be used in a far wider range of latitude so that solar power is now viable at just about any location in the world. Many countries in Europe could make enough solar energy to power their country if they covered less than 2% of their land area in solar power. The United States could convert entirely to solar energy if it spent about 2% of its GDP on solar panels. But similar to wind energy, solar energy is inconsistent and depends even more on weather than wind energy does. Finally, nuclear energy is still being developed to be more sustainable. Currently in the United States the fuel used to generate nuclear energy (Uranium-235) is used for one cycle and then put away in storage as spent fuel waiting to decay. However, Europe, primarily in France, where nuclear power is a substantial part of the total power production, leftover uranium and plutonium are separated from the spent fuel and converted into more usable fuel. Also the remainder of the spent fuel is bombarded with neutrons to degrade it all of the way to non-radioactive material. These processes can lead to nuclear power becoming increasingly sustainable. Alternative energy technology and practices need to continue to grow in these ways to make sustainability a realistic goal.
Many people talk about moving the world toward sustainability but how much is actually being done? As a matter of fact the entire renewable energy industry as a whole is growing at an amazing rate. Every field of renewable energy from wind energy to solar to nuclear is making advances that will allow people to make plenty of electricity without a great deal of waste and emissions.
In the documentary A Sea Change, retired educator Sven Huseby travels the world examining the effects of ocean acidification on the worlds various marine ecosystems. Throughout the film, the focus remains on only the negative effects of the increasing ocean acidity, entirely ignoring any possible fixes and conveying a sense of helplessness to the viewer. However, as the film concludes, the rhetoric changes in favor of creating hope and giving the human race a call to action to save the world’s oceans from acidification.
The first major example of positive, hopeful rhetoric comes is the appearance of an eco-friendly foreign hotel that institutes a heating and cooling system that emits no carbon. Such as system drew on nearby ocean water in order to provide heat and air conditioning for the entire building without releasing any anthropogenic carbon. In the conversation between Sven and the hotel representation, the film makes clear that such technology could be used in many coastal areas in the United States of America, thereby giving Americans hope that they can implement such technologies to help save the oceans and spurring them to action.
Likewise, Sven visits a very windy area on the coast of Norway and meets with a pair of experts on wind energy. They discuss turbines that will convert the energy in the wind into clean energy used to power large areas. As with the hotel, the film makes a point of naming specific locations in the United States where such turbines could operate highly efficiently, once again using rhetoric that will spur Americans to take action in the hopes of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Finally, Sven visits the headquarters of the corporation Google, famous for its search engine. While receiving a tour of the grounds, the documentary prominently features the myriad arrays of solar panels. In addition, the conversation between Sven and his guide strongly emphasizes that the solar panels provide for one third of Google’s power consumption. This rhetoric strongly influences people to believe that by investing in solar panels themselves they can cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and therefore do their part to save the world’s oceans.
After implementing mostly despairing rhetoric through the majority of A Sea Change, the documentary changes to a style which inspires hope in the viewer. This hope coupled with the possible solutions the film provides to the carbon dioxide emission problem intends to spur the film’s viewers to action. Ideally, the ending would influence every viewer to do his or her utmost to reduce carbon emissions and save the oceans.