Healing the Ocean

Here are a few suggestions if you wish to learn more about the oceans in general, and acidification in particular.

Acidification
I urge you to watch Dr. Jane Lubchenco’s fascinating, jargon-free testimony before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing, "The State of Climate Science" held on December 2, 2009. Lubchenco, a marine ecologist, runs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and was, until recently, vice-chair of the EDF Board of Trustees. She is a terrific teacher; her demonstration of the process of acidification is classroom-friendly, and makes the science clear.

Part One:

Part Two:

The Monaco Declaration, recently approved by 155 scientists from 26 countries, sets forth the acidification problem in a straightforward manner. It also addresses the option of geoengineering as a solution. (Bottom line: only cutting carbon emissions will work.) The paper, which came out of the Second International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World, concludes: "Ocean acidification is rapid, but recovery will be slow. The current increase in ocean acidity is a hundred times faster than any previous natural change that has occurred over the last many millions of years."

The broader picture
State of the World's Oceans, by Michelle Allsopp et al, is a comprehensive overview of the latest published scientific information about the condition of the oceans. It is written by scientists working at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter in the UK. It is also clear and accessible, though goes into some depth — I recommend this for the committed amateur as well as for the dedicated science student.

Rachel Carson is widely known for her influential book on the dangers of pesticides, Silent Spring, but she wrote wonderfully and extensively about the ocean. She was a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in the forties; her first job was to write radio copy for a series of weekly educational broadcasts, "Romance Under the Waters." Two of my all-time favorite books are The Sea Around Us, which was bestseller in 1951, and The Edge of the Sea, which also became a best seller. Though some of the information is outdated, both of these books are eminently worthwhile. Carson's style is poetic. She writes movingly about life in the tidal zones, and makes you care about those unseen, tiny, tough, resilient sea creatures. Her sense of wonder is contagious. After reading The Edge of the Sea, your beach walks will never be the same.

Nearly a half century after Carson's books appeared, Dr. Rod Fujita's Heal the Ocean: Solutions for Saving Our Seas, is a clarion call for action to stop the desecration of the seas. Fujita, a senior scientist at EDF, paints a picture that is both frightening and inspiring: He reveals the mysteries of sea life and of ecosystems gone awry due to humans' over-exploitation: seagrass meadows where turtles once grazed, majestic kelp forests reduced to rubble from an explosion of urchins because their natural predators have been fished out, delicate coral reefs, harboring a quarter of the world's fish, under threat everywhere from climate change and pollution. Dr. Fujita offers a wealth of creative solutions grounded in science and economics and backed by real-world examples. He makes you believe in the ocean's ability to restore itself — if humans can become caring stewards of the seas.

26 Responses

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