Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Changing Oceans

Ocean Acidification gained national attention at a US Senate hearing on Tuesday. One of many challenges confronting our oceans, increasing acidity of saltwater threatens the health of calcifying species that provide habitat and form the base of the marine food web. Science supports that increasing levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean is behind this problem. In essence, as our ocean works to protect us from greenhouse gasses, she is slowly suffering herself. And like the stoic old woman, it is hard to see this problem on the surface. However, under microscopes, scientists are finding that, among other things, documented changes in the water are causing tiny crustaceans, corals, and Pacific oysters to lose structural integrity. Not surprisingly, one of the most vocal communities on Ocean Acidification are shellfish growers. If the science is correct, then the shellfish industry will be a lot less lucrative. Other potential impacts are that reef breaks will start to break down and juvenile salmon will have less to eat.

The Senate hearing was unfortunately clouded by sad irony. Simultaneously in another hearing, US Senators were voting to increase offshore oil drilling. Senator Cantwell coined it perfectly, “it’s crazy they are discussing more drilling.”

Yesterday's Olympian offers good coverage on the hearing.
And if you have a moment, check out the following blogs:

Monday, June 8, 2009

World Oceans Day

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when it clearly should be named Ocean." Arthur C. Clarke

Today, June 8th, 2009 is World Oceans Day. To celebrate, I encourage you to take a moment or two to consider the ocean. Oceans cover over 70 percent of the planet's surface. Without oceans, there wouldn't be life. The world's oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe, regulate our climate, and provide food and drinking water. The ocean is also where many of us work and play and for some of us why we chose to live in Washington State.

I also encourage you to take conscious actions on behalf of the ocean, not just today, but everyday. An action can be as simple as taking a shorter shower, picking up after your pet, washing your car at an official car wash, and remembering to take your reusable bag to the store.

First proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, World Oceans Day is now officially designated by the U.N.