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Millions of oysters are consumed in the United States each year but these trendy bivalves are coming under increasing threat from ocean acidification resulting from climate change. Animals like shellfish, corals and sea urchins need carbonate ions to build their shells and other structures yet the more oceans acidify, the scarcer those essential building blocks […]
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, landmark legislation to enable institutions to compete for $50 million annually in federally funded prize money for research dedicated to ocean acidification. The House also passed the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, which directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work with state and local experts to assess the likely impacts of acidification on coastal communities, prepare a public report on which communities are most exposed to the problem, and support state efforts to assess their own vulnerabilities. Both bills had overwhelming bi-partisan support – but whether the Senate will take them up remains to be seen.
Oceans are heating up at a rate as much as 40% faster than the global consensus of scientists studying climate change had previously predicted. A team of scientists looking at the numerous recent studies which made that claim have now validated those studies’ conclusions based on ocean heat content (OHC) observations (actual ocean temperature data), according to a new report published in the journal Science on Friday. It also validates (as if we needed more proof) that the planet is clearly warming.
Why This Matters: Science matters. The more data scientists have to work with, the better they can understand the changes that are wreaking havoc with our planet. With more ocean observing sensors, which could be much more beneficial if we expanded the network of buoys and added sensors to more ships, we would not have to fill in nearly so many gaps and could do a much better job of forecasting risks and impacts, such as sea level rise, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification. As the experts who conducted the review said, “There is a clear need to continue to improve the ocean observation and analysis system to provide better estimates of OHC, because it will enable more refined regional projections of the future.”
Warming ocean temperatures are causing massive changes for fishermen, some of which may force them out of business, according to several recent stories examining the impacts of climate change on the fishing industry.
Why This Matters: Warming waters that shift fish populations make a barely viable business downright impossible for many small and medium-sized fishing operations. Not to mention the additional fuel and time it takes to chase fewer fish, that are now found farther from ports. Watching this play out is painful in U.S. fishing communities, but for many parts of the world, it could become a real food security crisis. The U.S. government currently is very lethargic in changing its fisheries management schemes even as the evidence of shifting fish populations grows. Given the challenges of climate change, a more engaged approach to fisheries management that takes climate change into account is needed. It will benefit the fishermen and the fish populations as well.
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