Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Arctic ocean acidification assessment 2018: summary for policy-makers

Some of the fastest rates of acidification are occurring in the Arctic, due mainly to the higher capacity of colder water to absorb CO2, but also due to dilution by river run-off and ice melt, and the inflow of naturally low pH waters from the Pacific. Changes are already evident in the Arctic Ocean’s marine carbonate system – which, among other things, has been shown to influence growth, reproduction and ultimately survival in some organisms. These changes may cause significant ecological shifts in the coming decades. These shifts could, in turn, have significant socioeconomic consequences, not only for Arctic communities, but more widely. These concerns were referenced in the Fairbanks Declaration of 11 May 2017, when ministers representing the eight Arctic states, and representatives of the six Permanent Participant organizations, noted “with concern the vulnerability of Arctic marine ecosystems to the impacts of ocean acidification”, and called for continuing study and awareness raising regarding those impacts and their consequences.

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Who cares about ocean acidification in the Plasticene?


• Ocean Acidification is not lifted to the top of the global agenda despite the gravity of the implications should it worsen.

• Marine plastics has risen rapidly and fast on the public agenda and gathers great media attention.

• Ocean Acidification should be considered separate from climate change.

• Important that the issue reaches the consciousness of the public and the global governance elite.

Plastics is all the rage, and mitigating marine litter is topping the agenda for nations pushing issues such as ocean acidification, or even climate change, away from the public consciousness. We are personally directly affected by plastics and charismatic megafauna is dying from it, and it is something that appears to be doable. So, who cares about the issue of ocean acidification anymore? We all should. The challenge is dual in the fact that is both invisible to the naked eye and therefore not felt like a pressing issue to the public, thereby not reaching the top of the agenda of policy makers; but also that it is framed in the climate change narrative of fear – whereby it instills in a fight-or-flight response in the public, resulting in their avoidance of the issue because they feel they are unable to take action that have results. In this article, we argue that the effective global environmental governance of ocean acidification, though critical to address, mitigate against and adapt to, is hindered by the both this lack of perception of urgency in the general public, fueled by a lack of media coverage, as well as a fight-or-flight response resulting from fear. We compare this to the more media friendly and plastics problem that is tangible and manageable. We report on a media plots of plastics and ocean acidification coverage over time and argue that the issue needs to be detangled from climate change and framed as its own issue to reach the agenda at a global level, making it manageable to assess and even care about for policy makers and the public alike?

Continue reading ‘Who cares about ocean acidification in the Plasticene?’

Ocean acidification: dealing with uncharted waters

There are ancient air bubbles trapped in ice that have allowed NASA to observe what Earth’s atmosphere was like in the past 400,000 years. Through research, NASA discovered the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have ever been. Since the industrial revolution, it is no secret humans have contributed immensely to the significant increase of CO2. In fact, the Earth’s oceans absorb an astonishing amount of CO2 emissions. Today, the Earth’s oceans absorb twenty-two million tons of CO2 every day. To make things more troublesome, researchers are predicting CO2 levels will continue to rise in the coming years, resulting in unprecedented effects to Earth. When the Earth’s ocean absorbs an increase of CO2, there is a corresponding increase in the acidity levels of the ocean’s chemical makeup. The astoundingly high levels of CO2 have resulted in Earth’s oceans becoming thirty percent more acidic than in recorded history. This underappreciated issue is called ocean acidification, and its effects create profound consequences. Ocean acidification is threatening the ocean’s chemical makeup, ecosystems, marine organisms, and biodiversity. “Absent immediate action, ‘irreversible, catastrophic changes to marine ecosystems’ are anticipated to occur[,]” even endangering human life. Although these facts are troubling, humans have the resources and ability to mitigate our ocean’s chemical makeup and change its terrifying future.

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Socio-economic tools to mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification on economies and communities reliant on coral reefs–a framework for prioritization

Coral reef preservation is a challenge for the whole of humanity, not just for the estimated three billion people that directly depend upon coral reefs for their livelihoods and food security. Ocean acidification combined with rising sea surface temperatures, and an array of other anthropogenic influences such as pollution, sedimentation, over fishing, and coral mining represent the key threats currently facing coral reef survival. Here we summarise a list of agreements, policies, and socio-economic tools and instruments that can be used by global, national and local decision-makers to address ocean acidification and associated threats, as identified during an expert workshop in October 2017. We then discuss these tools and instruments at a global level and identify the key tasks for raising decision makers’ awareness. Finally, we suggest ways of prioritizing between different actions or tools for mitigation and adaptation.

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A framework for agenda-setting ocean acidification through boundary work

• For ocean acidification to be seen as a salient and legitimate issue, awareness raising, learning and capacity building are required.

• Workshops and outreach activities can facilitate learning, awareness-raising and co-production of knowledge about coastal ocean acidification.

• Stakeholders agreed that coastal ocean acidification could be treated as a water-quality issue and managed under the Water Framework Directive.

• Coastal zone managers face challenges in addressing ocean acidification, and wants national government to take responsibility for actions in response to OA.

Ocean acidification (OA) is already impacting marine organisms and may fundamentally alter marine ecosystems in the coming decades, with major implications for ocean services, such as food provision. Though OA is an emerging concern in coastal zone management, current actions are limited to monitoring and knowledge production. This article presents a framework for addressing coastal zone OA in local-level policy agendas through workshops, and lessons learned and outcome from the implementation of this framework in two cases in southern and northern Norway. The framework includes four components: 1) facilitating knowledge exchange and identify challenges and opportunities relating to OA; 2) ensuring legitimacy of new knowledges; 3) building capacity through learning and skill development; and 4) raise awareness about OA among local decisionmakers. The case studies include local and regional coastal zone management stakeholders and, using OA measurements and modelling, illustrate co-production of new knowledge of coastal ocean acidification and its potential local impacts. Through two rounds of workshops, we demonstrate that the level of OA awareness markedly increases among stakeholders. This awareness manifests in vocal interest for looming projected impacts and their necessary mitigative measures. This concern is compounded by stakeholders who recognize that OA should be treated as a component of water-quality, implying that OA is gaining salience as a local policy issue. However, it is evident that local management faces challenges in addressing such an issue, combined with expectations that higher levels of government take responsibility for mitigative and adaptive actions in response to OA.

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A governing framework for international ocean acidification policy


• Ocean acidification (OA) poses a threat to marine systems and the goods and services they provide.

• A framework is needed to guide the international response to minimize and address OA.

• International policy should have three objectives: mitigation, adaptation and the redress of harm.

• These three objectives can be pursued by a number of multilateral agreements.

• Such an approach may fill the governance gap created by the lack of OA treaty.


Ocean acidification (OA) is a major emergent stressor of marine ecosystems with global implications for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and economic prosperity. International action is imperative for addressing it. This paper builds a science-based governing framework, identifying three overarching policy objectives and six areas for action that should be pursued so as to minimise this global problem. No unifying OA treaty or legal instrument with the explicit task of addressing OA currently exists and it looks highly unlikely that any will eventuate. A more pragmatic approach is to use existing multilateral agreements. However, taking on OA as a unified problem seems to be beyond the scope of existing agreements, due to structural limitations and the willingness of Parties. Given this, it is more likely that OA will be addressed by a network of agreements, each responding to discrete elements of the problem of OA within their capabilities. However, it is unclear how existing MEA capabilities extend to addressing OA. This paper therefore offers an analytical framework through existing governance structures can be explored for their capabilities to respond to OA.

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Environmental framing on Twitter: impact of Trump’s Paris Agreement withdrawal on climate change and ocean acidification dialogue

The role of social media in communicating emerging environmental issues has received little attention. One such issue is ocean acidification (OA), the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) acidifies oceans. Although scientists consider OA to be as dangerous as climate change (CC) and both problems are caused by excess CO2 emissions, public awareness of OA is low. We investigated public discussions about CC and OA on Twitter, identifying frames and tweeter characteristics. Tweeting patterns before and after President Trump’s 1 June 2017 announcement of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the international Paris Climate Agreement were compared because of the potential for diverse framing of this globally communicated event. For CC tweets, Political/Ideological Struggle (PIS) and Disaster (DS) frames were prevalent, with PIS frames increasing threefold after Trump’s announcement. DS, Settled Science (SS), and Promotional frames were prevalent among OA tweets, with SS decreasing and PIS increasing after the announcement. Our findings suggest that Trump’s decision sparked discourse on CC and facilitated expressions of politicized opinions on Twitter. We conclude that with a careful understanding of issue familiarity among its publics, social media can be effective for disseminating information and opinion of established and emerging environmental issues, complementing traditional media outlets.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book