Posts Tagged 'mitigation'

An orphan problem looking for adoption: responding to ocean acidification utilising existing international institutions

Ocean acidification poses a substantial threat to the ocean, marine wildlife and the goods and services they provide. As a result it presents a substantial regulatory challenge at the international, regional, national and sub-national levels. In the international realms, ocean acidification is not currently addressed by any international instrument or stand-alone agreement, nor does there appear to be any coherent framework for responding to the issue. Despite this, there are a number of international institutions, including treaty bodies and specialised UN agencies that have expressed an interest in ocean acidification and have begun to initiate an array of relevant activities – a small number of which may be considered substantive activities, including rule-making and implementation.

This paper is an effort to explore the existing international frameworks that are applicable to forming a response to ocean acidification in an attempt to prevent worsening acidification and respond to impacts now and into the future. Six policy domains are outlined that together comprise a comprehensive response to ocean acidification. Each of these are then addressed with respect to what institutions are currently doing to respond to acidification and what could be done in the future.

This paper finds that only three international institutions have initiated substantive policy-making in response to ocean acidification with respect to the regulation of carbon capture and storage and the protection of species. While these are important policy interventions, they are simply not enough to prevent worsening ocean acidification or respond to the impacts resulting from increased acidity, even when coupled with policies, such as regulation of carbon dioxide under the UNFCCC that have been implemented without reference to ocean acidification. In order to fill the existing gaps, this paper proposes a series of, as yet un-utilized mechanisms that could be employed to enhance a response to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘An orphan problem looking for adoption: responding to ocean acidification utilising existing international institutions’

Marine reserves can mitigate and promote adaptation to climate change

Strong decreases in greenhouse gas emissions are required to meet the reduction trajectory resolved within the 2015 Paris Agreement. However, even these decreases will not avert serious stress and damage to life on Earth, and additional steps are needed to boost the resilience of ecosystems, safeguard their wildlife, and protect their capacity to supply vital goods and services. We discuss how well-managed marine reserves may help marine ecosystems and people adapt to five prominent impacts of climate change: acidification, sea-level rise, intensification of storms, shifts in species distribution, and decreased productivity and oxygen availability, as well as their cumulative effects. We explore the role of managed ecosystems in mitigating climate change by promoting carbon sequestration and storage and by buffering against uncertainty in management, environmental fluctuations, directional change, and extreme events. We highlight both strengths and limitations and conclude that marine reserves are a viable low-tech, cost-effective adaptation strategy that would yield multiple cobenefits from local to global scales, improving the outlook for the environment and people into the future.

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How does framing affect policy support for emissions mitigation? Testing the effects of ocean acidification and other carbon emissions frames

Public support for carbon emissions mitigation is crucial to motivate action to address global issues like climate change and ocean acidification (OA). Yet in the public sphere, carbon emissions mitigation policies are typically discussed in the context of climate change and rarely in the context of OA or other global change outcomes. In this paper, we advance research on OA and climate change perceptions and communication, by (i) examining causal beliefs about ocean acidification, and (ii) measuring support for mitigation policies from individuals presented with one of five different policy frames (climate change, global warming, carbon pollution, air pollution, and ocean acidification). Knowledge about OA causes and consequences is more widespread than we anticipated, though still generally low. Somewhat surprisingly, an “air pollution” mitigation frame elicits the highest degree of policy support overall, while “carbon pollution” performs no better than “climate change” or “global warming.” Framing effects are in part contingent on prior knowledge and attitudes, and mediated by concern. Perhaps due to a lack of OA awareness, the OA frame generates the least support overall, although it seems to close the gap in support associated with political orientation: the OA frame increases support among those (few) conservatives who report having heard of OA before the survey. These findings complement previous work on climate change communication and suggest the need for further research into OA as an effective way to engage conservatives in carbon emissions mitigation policy. Potentially even more promising is the air pollution framing.

Continue reading ‘How does framing affect policy support for emissions mitigation? Testing the effects of ocean acidification and other carbon emissions frames’

Conservation of Brazilian coral reefs in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean: a change of approach

Brazil has the most extensive and richest areas of coral reefs in the South Atlantic Ocean, with its fauna characterized by high endemism and adaptations related to its growth and morphology, to its coral building fauna and to the depositional environment that differ from other coral reefs around the world. In spite of the effects from changes in the global environmental, the main stress factors for Brazilian reefs are local level threats, such as pollution and overfishing. The effects from these threats reduce biodiversity and result in decreasing stocks at different trophic levels. The trend that currently exists, regarding marine resource use, implies that reassessing the conservation strategies is urgently necessary if the degradation of these environments is to be reversed. It is necessary that the practices used in adjacent watersheds be improved, combined with actions to protect and recover native vegetation, along with planning for developing coastal areas, which will ensure that sedimentation rates be controlled and pollution sources are drastically reduced. Brazil should have to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to lead an evolution from traditional threat management in individual portions of ecosystems to large-scale management strategies in complex socio-economic and natural systems.

Continue reading ‘Conservation of Brazilian coral reefs in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean: a change of approach’

A good Kiwi isn’t acidic: how ocean acidification is affecting the New Zealand economy

In a country that houses a mere 4 million people, it is no wonder that agriculture has become the main facet of New Zealand’s economy. However, while the sheep and produce have flourished from land protection laws, marine life has struggled in recent years due to an increase in oceanic carbon levels. In an area of the Pacific that is so rich in coral reefs, Great White breeding areas, and a plethora of fish species, any upset of the natural preexisting chemical balance has a tangible impact. New Zealand is dealing with a crisis with huge economic and ecological ramifications. I study the exact adverse effects that ocean acidification has had on the economy of New Zealand. The scientific process of how ocean acidification occurs is a building block of this understanding as well as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The rise of marine pH levels is inextricably linked to the downturn of prosperity in New Zealand’s agricultural sector. My solutions address stricter policies in regards to fishing and emissions regulations to augment the regulation of established New Zealand commercial fishing laws. In this thesis, my goal is to highlight that ocean acidification is a climate problem that affects the entire New Zealand population. By putting these effects into economic terms, I hope to urge change in the “business as usual” way countries conduct themselves, starting with policy makers whose focus is growing their GDP. To illustrate this point effectively, I utilize the disciplines of chemistry, economics, and politics to analyze the trends and consequences of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A good Kiwi isn’t acidic: how ocean acidification is affecting the New Zealand economy’

The influence of ocean acidification on the economic vitality of shellfish hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest: A meta-analysis

Ocean acidification is the chemical process that results in the decrease of ocean pH levels. This decrease is caused by the diffusion of atmospheric carbon dioxide into Earth’s oceans. In other words, Earth’s oceans act as a carbon sink for atmospheric carbon. Prior to the industrial revolution in 1760, the ocean regulated the amount of carbon in earth’s atmosphere in a manner that did not threaten marine ecosystems. However, due to the increased combustion of fossil fuels due to rapid industrialization, urbanization, and population growth, oceans have begun to take up excessive amounts of carbon dioxide, resulting in an alteration of oceanic chemistry. The accumulation of hydrogen ions in ocean water due to the chemical reaction between carbonate carbon dioxide, and water have increased the acidity of the ocean. This has created a corrosive environment for shell-forming organisms that rely on carbonate for their exoskeletons. Many of these organisms, especially those in the Mollusca phylum, are commercially valuable. Ocean acidification has already begun its impact on the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest. However, if a business-as-usual scenario of carbon combustion prevails over use of alternative energy sources and mandatory terrestrial pollutant controls, the impact on shellfish aquaculture firms will only intensify and threaten the industry and its associated jobs and revenue. Local, state and federal authorities and agencies have begun to take steps to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification. Mitigation strategies are analyzed on their basis to effectively diminish the physiological and economic impact of ocean acidification on shellfish aquaculture operations. The question remains if these strategies will be able to successfully inhibit the ongoing process of ocean acidification, or simply just delay the impacts.

Continue reading ‘The influence of ocean acidification on the economic vitality of shellfish hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest: A meta-analysis’

Can seaweed farming play a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation?

Seaweed aquaculture, the fastest-growing component of global food production, offers a slate of opportunities to mitigate, and adapt to climate change. Seaweed farms release carbon that maybe buried in sediments or exported to the deep sea, therefore acting as a CO2 sink. The crop can also be used, in total or in part, for biofuel production, with a potential CO2 mitigation capacity, in terms of avoided emissions from fossil fuels, of about 1,500 tons CO2 km−2 year−1. Seaweed aquaculture can also help reduce the emissions from agriculture, by improving soil quality substituting synthetic fertilizer and when included in cattle fed, lowering methane emissions from cattle. Seaweed aquaculture contributes to climate change adaptation by damping wave energy and protecting shorelines, and by elevating pH and supplying oxygen to the waters, thereby locally reducing the effects of ocean acidification and de-oxygenation. The scope to expand seaweed aquaculture is, however, limited by the availability of suitable areas and competition for suitable areas with other uses, engineering systems capable of coping with rough conditions offshore, and increasing market demand for seaweed products, among other factors. Despite these limitations, seaweed farming practices can be optimized to maximize climate benefits, which may, if economically compensated, improve the income of seaweed farmers.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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