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.
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.
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.
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.
Scientists and policy makers are trying from all angles to prevent global warming from destroying the earth’s ecosystems and, by extension, us. Much research is going into alternative, green fuel sources that provide energy without the negative byproduct of carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with fossil fuels and coal. An alternative means of staving off global warming and ocean acidification is carbon sequestration and storage (CSS), a form of geoengineering. The term CSS encompasses a variety of different techniques that entail the consumption or storage of anthropogenic CO2. While CSS is often discussed in the context of global warming, it applies just as much to ocean acidification, and in some cases, even more so.
There are two CSS techniques in particular that relate directly to ocean acidification. One is a carbon storage technique and the other is a carbon sequestration technique. The former involves taking carbon dioxide stored in the surface levels of the world’s oceans and pumping them into the ocean’s depths. There is a great expanse below the oceans’ surfaces to pump the carbon into. This would, to some degree, mitigate the effects of ocean acidification, which are localized to the surface waters. However, this could feasibly have unknown side effects. That anthropogenic CO2 is being taken in to the ocean was originally seen as a good thing as it displaces the excess carbon dioxide in the air, displacing surface-level dissolved CO2 to the depths of the ocean may also end up being hazardous to ecosystems despite initially seeming good. Regardless, the technique merits further research, and any policymaker considering initiating the use of this geoengineering technique should consider its possible effects on and in terms of ocean acidification.
The other geoengineering technique is enhanced weathering. This involves depositing an alkaline mineral into the ocean to react with excess carbon dioxide and form stable, harmless carbonate ions. The technique would remove carbon dioxide from the oceans and, by gas exchange, from the atmosphere. The technique, somewhat ironically, works because of ocean acidification—the chemical reaction uses carbon dioxide as a reactant. However, there are a variety of potential side effects of enhanced weathering, notably, the effects of alkalinity on ocean ecosystems. Still, it is one of the most intriguing CSS options available, and it is intrinsically tied to ocean acidification.
Policymakers and researchers should take ocean acidification into account when dealing with climate change issues. As has been shown here, many CSS techniques rely on the ocean. Ocean acidification also serves as a reminder that a seemingly ideal CSS technique may in fact have serious drawbacks.
P. Köhler, J. Hartmann, D. A. Wolf-Gladrow, Geoengineering potential of artificially enhanced silicate weathering of olivine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107, 20228-20233 (2010).
R. Swart, N. Marinova, Policy options in a worst case climate change world: Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change 15:531–549 (2010)
I think the aspects of sustainability and ocean acidification should reach out to a more diverse audience. It is important that more people are informed about these topics. Additionally, people should not just know what ocean acidification is, but they should also know its effects. They should know ocean acidification compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. This is important because what happens to the ocean affects a large amount of people. This can range from present to future generations.
The problem here is that people can’t help if they do not know about the issued. Again, more people need to be informed. But how can this be done? The best way is just to get the word out there. This can be done easily through media sources such as television, newspapers, magazines, and even the Internet. At the same time, it might not be a good idea to title the advertisement A Detailed Scientific Analysis on How Ocean Acidification Compromises the Sustainability of Ocean Ecosystem Services. I would bet this header would not be likely to catch too many eyes. Again, our main objective is to inform more people; thus, we want an effective way of communicating and not one that would scare away out audience. With said, we can better communicate sustainability and ocean acidification to our audience by simplifying the issue so it is not as daunting.
In addition to the public, policymakers, and fisheries professionals, research scientists should also be well informed about sustainability and ocean acidification. One would think scientists would already know about how ocean acidification compromises the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services. Surprisingly, a fair amount of research scientists do not even know what ocean acidification is. The ones that do know are most likely studying within a related field area. With this said, the aspects of sustainability and ocean acidification should also reach out to a more diverse audience within the science community. All scientists should be aware of these topics no matter what field of study they are in. As more scientist are informed, more of them will be likely to consider ocean acidification and the sustainability of ocean ecosystem services when researching. Only when this happens will research be truly sustainable: “researched [that] is related to or focused on topics and questions that address aspects of how to live within the regenerative capacity of the earth to meet the needs of present life generations without compromising the ability of future like generations to meet their essential needs.”
I believe that the awareness of ocean acidification depends on the audience. Scientists and fisheries professionals are more likely to know what ocean acidification is and realize how it affects sustainability. Similarly, environmental activists are probably more aware of the issue. Since ocean acidification is closely related to these fields, it would make sense that these people would have a better understanding and knowledge of the subject.
However, on a large scale, I feel that few people know of ocean acidification and its consequences. While many people understand global warming, I think that very little have heard of ocean acidification. Before, this class I did not know much about the issue, and I believe that it is difficult to come across information on ocean acidification unless you are searching for it. Ocean acidification is definitely not a popular topic in society today, and even if some people have heard of it, I doubt many people truly understand its effects.
In order to increase awareness, I think that the media would need to be heavily involved. Recently, global warming has become a more popular issue, and it seems that more and more people are trying to become more sustainable. One way to increase the public’s knowledge of ocean acidification would be to demonstrate the correlation between ocean acidification and global warming. In general, most people see global warming as a larger problem, and while ocean acidification is important, I don’t think that many people would be as interested in it on its own. This is why linking it to global warming might inspire more people to learn about it and get involved.
Another way to capture society’s interest in ocean acidification would be to discuss more publicly the economic effects that could occur from it. More people would want to help if they knew that the issue could possibly hurt the economy. By showing that ocean acidification affects the food chain, people might view the issue as more pressing. Although framing the issue apocalyptically is not always the best option, since ocean acidification has such a small audience at the moment, I feel that presenting it in an urgent manner may be the best way to get people to actually consider the problem.
Foust, C. R. & Murphy, W. O. (2009) Revealing and Reframing Apocalyptic Tragedy in Global Warming Discourse. Environmental Communication, 3, 151-167.
I do feel that different audiences know that ocean acidification is affecting the sustainability of our ecosystem services, but I believe that a larger percentage of people are not aware of its effects. The select few who do know of the effects are primarily only those who are directly affected by ocean acidification. These might include scientist in the field or owners of fisheries who are seeing the impact on their business. I feel others would only know of ocean acidification and its effects if they briefly touched upon it in a class or heard about it from an environmental protection campaign of some sort.
For audiences who do not know, I feel they are the people who can continue their lives without feeling ocean acidification’s impact. The general public does not engage in activities everyday that would be influenced by a different pH in the ocean. Policy makers, even, lack this exposure to acidifying waters, so we cannot expect them to know of its occurrence. However, even with this gap, I feel a larger gap exists between those who do and do not realize the extent to which ocean acidification effects sustainability. Yes people may aware that CO2 levels are rising, that we need to be eco-friendly to reduce these CO2 emissions, and maybe that the oceans are absorbing the CO2 at high levels. But they do not understand what happens when CO2 goes into the water. They do not realize that fish populations are decreasing, that this impacts other species, and as a result food chains are skewed. They may also not see the connection this could have to seafood prices. And they probably would not know these details unless they are involved in some type of environmental protection or they have read in depth articles that discuss these processes.
Again, since they do not involve themselves directly in activities that would in some way be affected by ocean acidification, they would probably not know how the ecosystems are being impacted. This is why education and awareness is imperative. Those unaware do not take classes on environmental sciences, or may read up about the other CO2 problem (considering not many people may also not understand the extent to which sustainability of ecosystems is not preserved from global warming). The initiative should be take to teach the importance and raise awareness of this issue just as we do with different cancers or situations in foreign countries. Not that they have not been taken already, but ocean acidification needs to be presented in a way to gain the attention of public while not over exaggerating its impact.
This would relay the simple message of what is going on, however an understanding of the magnitude of ocean acidification would, in reality, be difficult. People cannot exactly understand why something is important if it does not affect them or their lives in any way. Stakeholders in any situation only give attention and care to things that involve them; stakeholders would not be stakeholders if they were not a part of the situation. Similarly, if the public does not become a direct stakeholder, I feel they may not achieve the full understanding of the issue and how it affects the ecosystem and its services.