Ocean Conservancy expert testifies on coastal & ocean impacts of climate, acidification

WASHINGTON, DC – Rising carbon pollution is not only warming the world’s ocean – it’s also changing its very chemistry, marine scientist Sarah Cooley, Ph.D., told members U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Environment today.

“Our ocean and the people who depend on it are facing unprecedented challenges,” Dr. Cooley warned. “The ocean is at risk, struggling to keep pace with rising temperatures, pollution, and the absorption of greenhouse gases.” Today’s hearing, Sea Change: Impacts of Climate Change on Our Oceans and Coasts, explored the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on oceans and U.S. coastal communities.

America’s coastal communities and economies are on the frontlines of climate change impacts, Dr. Cooley testified. Dr. Cooley leads the Ocean Acidification Program at Ocean Conservancy. Ocean acidification, caused by rising levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in ocean waters, has affected shellfish growers and fishery harvests. Coupled with other ocean stressors, including ocean heat waves, sea level rise, loss of sea ice, and reduced ocean oxygen levels, the future of healthy oceans and coastal communities is increasingly at risk.

“The evidence is sobering,” said Dr. Cooley. “The science clearly shows that the fundamental solution is to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. There are also steps we can take to reduce the stress on marine ecosystems and the human communities they support.”

Dr. Cooley and Ocean Conservancy are calling on Congress to ensure continued investment into research and monitoring of changing ocean conditions; invest in programs aimed at making communities and economies resilient to climate change impacts; and move climate legislation that will help spare communities the most devastating impacts of climate change.

“We require urgent action,” said Dr. Cooley. “I believe there is an opportunity to continue American leadership on ocean science and technology, combining that history of excellence with a forward-looking vision to steward the main resource that makes life on Earth possible: our ocean.”

“The science on climate change is clear, and solutions for our ocean and coastal communities are available here and now,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “We urge Congress to work toward reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and focus on preparing our coastal communities and our marine ecosystems for the impacts from climate change, and are able to successfully adapt to those they cannot avoid. During the appropriations process this spring, Congress must prioritize critical funding for climate research, coastal resilience, and adaptation programs.”

The Ocean Conservancy, 27 February 2019. Article.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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