Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Climate change, ocean acidification and the marine environment: challenges for the international legal regime

The protection and conservation of the ocean warrant increased attention from the global community. Several disturbing issues pose a threat to  the marine environment and its well-being (Von Heland & Olsson, 2014, pp. 4470-4496), among them are marine environmental pollution and the degradation of marine biodiversity – two well-known challenges that must be overcome. Combined, they are striking challenges to the marine environment. Moreover, most troubling is that they are caused by an overwhelming level of human activities (Von Heland, Clifton &Olsson, 2014), which are sometimes transboundary, and whose consequences will become more severe and complicated if not properly curbed. hus, it is common knowledge that these activities require comprehensive policies, laws and principles to manage them effectively. Linked to these solutions is the need for responsibilities, cooperation and commitments at local, national, regional and international levels. Altogether, the actions required for the protection of the ocean from human activities in responsible ways has become a necessity rather than an option. However, despite the challenges becoming more acute, and the use of the ocean less sustainable and more harmful, a durable solution to reverse these impacts is unlikely. Considering these issues, this chapter lays the foundation for subsequent chapters by describing why and how ocean-related issues should be addressed responsibly, immediately and systematically, and how and why ocean pollution and threats to marine biodiversity are challenges to overcome. The exploration in this chapter guides the discussion in the subsequent chapters, which critically examine the current legal and institutional frameworks governing different issues of marine environmental protection and conservation.

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Acidification in Nordic waters: status, trends and implications for marine species

Recent studies on marine life show that the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration can have negative impacts on growth and survival of groups of marine life such as corals and other calcifying organisms.

Increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, and hence in the oceans, lead to decreasing pH or increasing acidification, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). During the last century, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen from around 280 ppm to 400 ppm; this has led to a pH decrease in the oceans of 0.1. OA currently takes place at a rate corresponding to approximately -0.02 pH unit per decade and an increase in CO2 at around 2 ppm per year. The projections for atmospheric CO2 concentration is an increase to around 1000 ppm at the end of the century, which will lower pH in the oceans by 0.3-0.4. Although this may appear relatively small, a decrease in pH of 0.1 corresponds to an increase in acidity (“free” protons) of 25%, and 0.3-0.4 corresponds to an increase of 200-250%.

Coastal systems experience changes in pH over time exceeding those of the ocean by several orders of magnitude,
but the field is poorly studied, and the spatial variation is large. The Baltic Sea is no exception to this. pH changes in the Baltic Sea are tightly coupled to nutrient input, alkalinity (AT) of freshwater sources in addition to increased CO2 levels and warming. Acidification trends vary substantially among coastal systems and time of year, but have been reported up to 10 times faster than OA.

The TRIACID project has mapped acidification trends in the Baltic Sea during the past 40 years, in different regions, and identified areas with a general lack of data. The project has described spatial variation and trends in pH status, and the main drivers of changing pH have been identified. Given the spatial variation, the data gaps, and all the different drivers a detailed projection of the development is complicated but since we expect increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, rising temperatures and decreasing nutrient input, the acidification trend will continue or accelerate in most of the region.

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Learning to play well with others: a proposed international solution to mitigate ocean acidification

While ocean acidification is a major crisis affecting the shellfish industry and local economies in the United States, it is an international issue and should be handled as such. Countries throughout the world are attempting to face the impacts of ocean acidification independently. For example, rising acidity levels are causing the exterior of shellfish to deteriorate in the Pacific Northwest and coral composition to weaken in Australia. Although the cause of these various, widespread issues is the ocean’s altering composition, the methods to mitigate the negative results are not treated in a comprehensive manner. Rather, these international ocean acidification implications are approached from an individualistic perspective.

This article will be broken up into four sections. First, this article will explain the background issue of ocean acidification and its potential negative environmental, economic, and social impacts. Second, current legislative and judicial developments in the United States addressing ocean acidification will be discussed. Third, an international section will address solutions employed in other countries facing effects from ocean acidification, as well as potential international solutions attempted or proposed. Finally, this article will conclude with suggestions for future change and potential solutions to face this international crisis, including legislative and scientific reform to mitigate or adapt to impacts of ocean acidification.

Ultimately, this article argues that a comprehensive international approach to ocean acidification is not only encouraged, but necessary, as this is an inherently international environmental crisis. As a specific proposal, this article posits the formation of an international panel of five countries, potentially including those with booming economies, high rates of pollution, dependence on aquaculture, and environmentalist tendencies. This proposal will be further discussed at the conclusion of this article

 

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Communicating ocean deoxygenation: developing recommendations for communicating ocean deoxygenation to California policy makers

A problem associated with anthropogenic climate change that is often overlooked by policy makers is the loss of oxygen within the ocean, referred to as ocean deoxygenation. This problem has the potential to cause immense harm to the oceans, the organisms found within, and the resources and ecosystem services
the oceans provide for humans. Despite the threats to our ecosystem and well-
being, ocean deoxygenation is relatively unknown to policy makers and the
public. Although studies have documented the loss of oxygen in the oceans over the last 50 years, it was only within the last 10 years that the term “ocean deoxygenation” was even created, cementing the connection between oxygen loss and anthropogenic climate change. Few efforts have been made to communicate this issue outside the scientific community, but an effort to address ocean deoxygenation must be made soon if we want to reverse or mitigate its effects.
California has experienced large percentages of oxygen loss over the past few decades: Monterey Bay lost 39.9% of its oxygen between 1998 and 2014 at 250-
400 meters depth, and the Southern California Bight lost 21% of its oxygen at 300 meters depth between 1984 and 2006 (Levin et al., 2018). This paper reviews ocean deoxygenation awareness, the successful campaign to communicate ocean acidification, and outlines communication recommendations to raise awareness of this issue among California legislators and policy makers in hopes of influencing mitigation policy and practices. These recommendations were created based on successful communication methods used in communicating the similar climate change-related issue of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a comparable example of an ocean health issue that continues to be communicated to policy members at the state and federal level. Ocean acidification and ocean deoxygenation are related to climate change;both exhibit complex mechanisms that can be simplified into succinct messages, and both became established in the literature with in the past two decades. The communication model used for ocean acidification will serve as a good base from which to develop recommendations for communication about ocean deoxygenation. This communication recommendation framework is meant to help establish a California-based case study of how to approach communicating ocean deoxygenation that can be used to guide future communication methods at the federal level.

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National environmental limits and footprints based on the Planetary Boundaries framework: the case of Switzerland

Highlights

• Planetary Boundaries: going from bio-physical to related socio-economic indicators.
• Setting limits at country level considering the role of countries and people needs.
• Limits and footprints are computed for the world and for a case study: Switzerland.
• Global priorities: Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, Biodiversity, Nitrogen Loss.

Abstract

The Planetary Boundaries concept is a recent scientific framework, which identifies a set of nine bio-physical limits of the Earth system that should be respected in order to maintain conditions favourable to further human development. Crossing the suggested limits would lead to drastic changes in human society by disrupting some of the ecological bases that underlie the current socio-economic system. As a contribution to the international discussion, and using the case of Switzerland, this study proposes a methodology to apply the Planetary Boundaries concept on the national level. Taking such an approach allows to assess the environmental sustainability of the socio-economic activities (e.g. consumption) by the inhabitants of a country in a long-term global perspective, assuming that past, current and future populations on Earth have similar “rights” to natural resources. The performance of countries is evaluated by comparing the country limits with their environmental footprints according to a consumption-based perspective. An approach was developed to: i) better characterise the Planetary Boundaries and understand which limits can effectively be currently quantified; ii) identify related socio-economic indicators for which both country limits and footprints can be computed; iii) compute values for limits, footprints and performances (at global and country level); and iv) suggest priorities for action based on the assessment of global and national performances. It was found that Switzerland should, as a priority, act on its footprints related to Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, Biodiversity Loss and Nitrogen Loss. The methodology developed herein can be applied to the analysis of other countries or territories, as well as extended to analyse specific economic sectors.

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Bioeconomics of ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is an additional stressor to many fisheries of today, mostly those targeting calcifier species. Responsible assessment and management of these fisheries should then account for the effect on growth and mortality rates of marine species most sensible to changes in pH conditions. This new environmental stressor could have management implications when determining appropriate rates of exploitation aiming at fisheries biological and economic reference points.

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Adaptation strategies to climate change in marine systems

The world’s oceans are highly impacted by climate change and other human pressures, with significant implications for marine ecosystems and the livelihoods that they support. Adaptation for both natural and human systems is increasingly important as a coping strategy due to the rate and scale of ongoing and potential future change. Here, we conduct a review of literature concerning specific case studies of adaptation in marine systems, and discuss associated characteristics and influencing factors, including drivers, strategy, timeline, costs, and limitations. We found ample evidence in the literature that shows that marine species are adapting to climate change through shifting distributions and timing of biological events, while evidence for adaptation through evolutionary processes is limited. For human systems, existing studies focus on frameworks and principles of adaptation planning, but examples of implemented adaptation actions and evaluation of outcomes are scarce. These findings highlight potentially useful strategies given specific social–ecological contexts, as well as key barriers and specific information gaps requiring further research and actions.

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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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