Posts Tagged 'Policy'

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’

Human dimensions of environmental change in small island developing states: some common themes

Climate change and its consequence of sea level rise are major issues for small island developing states (SIDS), as they worsen many other pressures on their people and their environment. Accordingly, articles in this special issue of Regional Environmental Change on SIDS address research gaps in the following thematic areas of the human dimensions of climate change. (1) Islander perceptions of climate change and the information sources on which these are based. (2) Migration to richer countries, which dominates popular media articles, so that scholars from a wide range of disciplines have given their perspectives on it. For many SIDS, however, relocation within that country is much more of an issue, but little studied as yet. (3) Community-based adaptation, a theme which only rarely appears in peer-reviewed journals. (4) National, regional and international policies and the effectiveness of their implementation. (5) Social and cultural issues arising from the above. This paper provides an overview of these and some related themes of importance to SIDS, including ocean acidification and land degradation. Researchers based in the SIDS and regional organisations have an important role in recognising these issues and in developing the local skills base needed to deal with them. The Paris Agreement of 2015 is a positive (but as yet inadequate) step towards the international action on climate change that SIDS need.

Continue reading ‘Human dimensions of environmental change in small island developing states: some common themes’

Impacts of ocean acidification in the coastal and marine environments of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Oceans have absorbed one third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released to the atmosphere from human activities causing the seawater pH to decrease by 0.1 units since the Industrial Revolution.

There is certainty that ocean acidification caused by anthropogenic activities is currently in progress and will increase in accord with rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. There is medium confidence that these changes with significantly impact marine ecosystems.

Throughout the Caribbean small islands, ocean acidification effects could be exacerbated due to local processes within coastal zones. Ocean surface aragonite saturation state (Ωarg) has declined by around 3% in the Caribbean region relative to pre-industrial levels potentially already impacting tropical marine calcifying organisms. In addition to the effect on living organisms, ocean acidification is likely to diminish the structural integrity of coral reefs through reduced skeletal density, loss of calcium carbonate, and dissolution of high-Mg carbonate cements which help to bind the reef. This would make coastal areas of the Caribbean small islands increasingly more vulnerable to the action of waves and storm surge. This is likely to have knock-on effects to the tourism sector, fisheries and coastal infrastructure.

More studies about the present and projected impacts of ocean acidification on Caribbean small islands are necessary in order to evaluate alternative adaptive strategies accounting for the different island’s environmental, socioeconomic, and political settings.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification in the coastal and marine environments of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’

Impacts of climate change on coral in the coastal and marine environments of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Coral reefs are integral to life in the Caribbean – providing protection from storms, sustaining national economies and livelihoods through tourism and fishing, and supporting culture, recreation and biodiversity conservation. Over a decade ago, their value was estimated at US$3.1 – 4.6 billion each year.

Climate change is already impacting coral reefs in the Caribbean, through coral bleaching, disease outbreaks, ocean acidification and physical damage from stronger hurricanes. Coral beaching is the most visible, wide-spread and iconic manifestation of climate change on reefs, with major events in the Caribbean in 1998, 2010 and 2015/16. The extent of bleaching and associated mortality varies by location and event, but has resulted in some mortality. Coral disease has already significantly altered the community composition of reefs in the Caribbean, and is projected to result in increasing frequency of outbreaks as seas warm. The lack of a centralized database to coordinate reef monitoring information, hampers efforts to measure these effects.

Ocean acidification is a direct chemical result of increased carbon dioxide, but it has a variety of different responses in different reef organisms. Corals are the brick foundations of the reef, with crustose coralline algae as their mortar. Both these critical functional groups are already being affected by the reduced pH of surface water, making it more difficult to calcify and grow.

Future impacts are expected to follow and accelerate on these trends.

By 2040–2043 projections are for the onset of annual severe bleaching, which would likely result in significant coral mortality. Disease outbreaks are predicted to become annual events several years earlier. Projections for future ocean acidification result in ocean carbonate saturation levels potentially dropping below those required to sustain coral reef accretion by 2050. Cutting emissions in CO2 (within RCP6.0) would buy many coral reefs a couple of decades more time before the worst impacts occur, but it delays rather than mitigates the threats posed to coral reefs by acidification and bleaching (Maynard et al, 2016).

National leaders of the Caribbean need to adamantly fight for CO2 emissions reductions, and ensure their reef management agencies take all precautionary measures needed to reduce local stress on their reefs to buy them additional time and resiliency potential for withstanding the stress of climate change.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of climate change on coral in the coastal and marine environments of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’

Using integrated, ecosystem-level management to address intensifying ocean acidification and hypoxia in the California Current large marine ecosystem

Ocean acidification is intensifying and hypoxia is projected to expand in the California Current large marine ecosystem as a result of processes associated with the global emission of CO2. Observed changes in the California Current outpace those in many other areas of the ocean, underscoring the pressing need to adopt management approaches that can accommodate uncertainty and the complicated dynamics forced by accelerating change. We argue that changes occurring in the California Current large marine ecosystem provide opportunities and incentives to adopt an integrated, systems-level approach to resource management to preserve existing ecosystem services and forestall abrupt change. Practical options already exist to maximize the benefits of management actions and ameliorate impending change in the California Current, for instance, adding ocean acidification and hypoxia to design criteria for marine protected areas, including consideration of ocean acidification and hypoxia in fisheries management decisions, and fully enforcing existing laws and regulations that govern water quality and land use and development.

Continue reading ‘Using integrated, ecosystem-level management to address intensifying ocean acidification and hypoxia in the California Current large marine ecosystem’

Identifying potential consequences of natural perturbations and management decisions on a coastal fishery social-ecological system using qualitative loop analysis

Managing for sustainable development and resource extraction requires an understanding of the feedbacks between ecosystems and humans. These feedbacks are part of complex social-ecological systems (SES), in which resources, actors, and governance systems interact to produce outcomes across these component parts. Qualitative modeling approaches offer ways to assess complex SES dynamics. Loop analysis in particular is useful for examining and identifying potential outcomes from external perturbations and management interventions in data poor systems when very little is known about functional relationships and parameter values. Using a case study of multispecies, multifleet coastal small-scale fisheries, we demonstrate the application of loop analysis to provide predictions regarding SES responses to perturbations and management actions. Specifically, we examine the potential ecological and socioeconomic consequences to coastal fisheries of different governance interventions (e.g., territorial user rights, fisheries closures, market-based incentives, ecotourism subsidies) and environmental changes. Our results indicate that complex feedbacks among biophysical and socioeconomic components can result in counterintuitive and unexpected outcomes. For example, creating new jobs through ecotourism or subsidies might have mixed effects on members of fishing cooperatives vs. nonmembers, highlighting equity issues. Market-based interventions, such as ecolabels, are expected to have overall positive economic effects, assuming a direct effect of ecolabels on market-prices, and a lack of negative biological impacts under most model structures. Our results highlight that integrating ecological and social variables in a unique unit of management can reveal important potential trade-offs between desirable ecological and social outcomes, highlight which user groups might be more vulnerable to external shocks, and identify which interventions should be further tested to identify potential win-win outcomes across the triple-bottom line of the sustainable development paradigm.

Continue reading ‘Identifying potential consequences of natural perturbations and management decisions on a coastal fishery social-ecological system using qualitative loop analysis’

Climate-smart design for ecosystem management: a test application for coral reefs

The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an “adaptation design tool” that is now under development.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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