Posts Tagged 'socio-economy'

For a world without boundaries: connectivity between marine tropical ecosystems in times of change

Tropical mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth. Their evolution in dynamic, and ever-changing environments means they have developed a capacity to withstand and recover (i.e., are resilient) from disturbances caused by anthropogenic activities and climatic perturbations. Their resilience can be attributed, in part, to a range of cross-ecosystem interactions whereby one ecosystem creates favorable conditions for the maintenance of its neighbors. However, in recent decades, expanding human populations have augmented anthropogenic activities and driven changes in global climate, resulting in increased frequencies and intensities of disturbances to these ecosystems. Many contemporary environments are failing to regenerate following these disturbances and consequently, large-scale degradation and losses of ecosystems on the tropical seascape are being observed. This chapter reviews the wealth of available literature focused on the tropical marine seascape to investigate the degree of connectivity between its ecosystems and how cross-ecosystem interactions may be impacted by ever-increasing anthropogenic activities and human-induced climate change. Furthermore, it investigates how disruption and/or loss of these cross-ecosystem interactions may impact the success of neighboring ecosystems and consequently, the highly-valued ecosystem services to which these ecosystems give rise. The findings from this review highlight the degree of connectivity between mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs, and emphasizes the need for a holistic, seascape-wide research approach to successfully protect and preserve these critically important ecosystems and their associated services for future generations.

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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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Collaborative ocean acidification mapping for a changing Salish Sea? transdisciplinary and transboundary barriers

Fragmented Ocean Acidification (OA) data and collaboration efforts between disciplines and stakeholders for the Salish Sea are barriers to a more effective transboundary ecosystem understanding and governance. While there are presently efforts to research and monitor OA, there is a significant gap of coordinated efforts throughout the entire Sea, especially around OA biological indicators. To help bridge the gaps and increase collaborative resources, I conducted an exploratory case study of OA data mapping for the changing Salish Sea. For this project, I addressed the following research questions. First, what are the most informative ecological indicators to discern critical climate risk trends from OA? Second, how can OA indicators in the Salish Sea efficiently be mapped? Through a multi-iterative process of semi-structured interviews, online survey, analytic deliberation, and participant observations from the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, I developed an OA online prototype story map. Unexpectedly, I found that transboundary data was unavailable and there was a surprising lack of collaboration between US and Canadian institutions and individuals. Therefore, this project has also evolved to focus on the stark differences in perceptions of collaboration, governance, and transboundary barriers in the Salish Sea. Due to this project evolution, I have additionally developed five prescriptions to address these barriers and address collaboration around OA in the Salish Sea:  1. Develop a Research Coordination Network (RCN) for the Salish Sea  2. Create a Transdisciplinary Framework with Governance Indicators for the Salish Sea  3. Expand Prototype Map with Shared Data.

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


• 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.


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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Consequences of spatially variable ocean acidification in the California Current: lower pH drives strongest declines in benthic species in southern regions while greatest economic impacts occur in northern regions


• Impacts of ocean acidification change with latitude in the California Current.
• Vulnerable species (e.g., calcifying invertebrates) and their predators decline most.
• Decline in revenue projected, mainly from lower Dungeness crab catch in the north.

Marine ecosystems are experiencing rapid changes driven by anthropogenic stressors which, in turn, are affecting human communities. One such stressor is ocean acidification, a result of increasing carbon emissions. Most research on biological impacts of ocean acidification has focused on the responses of an individual species or life stage. Yet, understanding how changes scale from species to ecosystems, and the services they provide, is critical to managing fisheries and setting research priorities. Here we use an ecosystem model, which is forced by oceanographic projections and also coupled to an economic input-output model, to quantify biological responses to ocean acidification in six coastal regions from Vancouver Island, Canada to Baja California, Mexico and economic responses at 17 ports on the US west coast. This model is intended to explore one possible future of how ocean acidification may influence this coastline. Outputs show that declines in species biomass tend to be larger in the southern region of the model, but the largest economic impacts on revenue, income and employment occur from northern California to northern Washington State. The economic consequences are primarily driven by declines in Dungeness crab from loss of prey. Given the substantive revenue generated by the fishing industry on the west coast, the model suggests that long-term planning for communities, researchers and managers in the northern region of the California Current would benefit from tracking Dungeness crab productivity and potential declines related to pH.

Continue reading ‘Consequences of spatially variable ocean acidification in the California Current: lower pH drives strongest declines in benthic species in southern regions while greatest economic impacts occur in northern regions’

Pacific in peril: Micronesia’s food security, development, and health under a changing climate

This thesis focuses on food security in Micronesian Island nations and how the effects of climate change are detrimental to the region’s fisheries resources and agricultural production. Because the Micronesian islands are on the forefront of climate change, the effects of ocean acidification, rising sea levels, and higher mean surface areas pose immediate risks to the region’s food security. Not only does climate change threaten both sources of the region’s food – fisheries and traditional agriculture – but includes ramifications for economic development, environmental conservation, and public health. Each island nation in the Pacific is entitled to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Because most of the world’s tuna stocks are concentrated in the Western Pacific, Pacific Island Countries (PIC) derive a significant portion of government revenue from selling tuna fishing licenses to countries such as Australia, China, Japan, and the US. Chapter 1 covers a brief history of the existing food systems in the Micronesian islands and pertinent data on the Micronesian islands’ climate, economy, geography, and health. Chapter 2 delves into climate change impacts on the islands’ terrestrial and marine ecology and the subsequent effects on island nations’ food sources both through agriculture and fisheries. Chapter 3 assesses the economic impacts – direct, indirect, and intangible costs – associated with the vulnerable food systems of island nations. Chapter 4 examines the resulting impacts on the nations’ overall public health conditions due to the disruptions in the vulnerable food systems. Chapter 5 poses several policy recommendations that address sustainable development, climate adaptation, and economic development. Overall, the overlapping lens of ecology, economics, and public health are used in exploring the impacts of climate change on food security on the Micronesian island nations.
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Towards defining an environmental investment universe within planetary boundaries

Science is increasingly able to identify precautionary boundaries for critical Earth system processes, and the business world provides societies with important means for adaptive responses to global environmental risks. In turn, investors provide vital leverage on companies. Here, we report on our transdisciplinary science/business experience in applying the planetary boundaries framework (sensu Rockström et al., Ecol Soc 14, 2009) to define a boundary-compatible investment universe and analyse the environmental compatibility of companies. We translate the planetary boundaries into limits for resource use and emissions per unit of economic value creation, using indicators from the Carnegie Mellon University EIO‑LCA database. The resulting precautionary ‘economic intensities’ can be compared with the current levels of companies’ environmental impact. This necessarily involves simplifying assumptions, for which dialogue between biophysical science, corporate sustainability and investment perspectives is needed. The simplifications mean that our translation is transparent from both biophysical and financial viewpoints, and allow our approach to be responsive to future developments in scientific insights about planetary boundaries. Our approach enables both sub‑industries and individual companies to be screened against the planetary boundaries. Our preliminary application of this screening to the entire background universe of all investable stock‑listed companies gives a selectivity of two orders of magnitude for an investment universe of environmentally attractive stocks. We discuss implications for an expanded role of environmental change science in the development of thematic equity funds.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book