New Report Examines Complex Threats Facing Our Oceans
By Adam Novak
A new study, Valuing the Ocean from Stockholm Environment Institute, takes an in depth look at the various challenges that threaten the health and stability of our ocean’s health. The study has divided the threat to the oceans into six categories: acidification, warming, hypoxia, sea level rise, pollution, and the overuse of marine resources.
Acidification is direct consequence of increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as the ocean has absorbed 25-30 percent of these emissions over the last 200 years. Surface ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent since the industrial revolution and will continue to increase by 150-200 percent by 2100 at our current rate of emissions, a rate of change 10 times faster then any other event experienced in the ocean in 65 million years. Acidification exposes sea organisms to harmful effects and increased acidification will decrease the ocean’s ability to be a carbon sink, allowing more carbon to exist in the atmosphere.
Warming is another threat as the ocean has absorbed 80 percent of the heat added to the climate system in the last 200 years. Warming negatively effects the ocean’s ecosystems such as shifting fish range habitats and bleaching coral. Ocean warming also is linked to more severe weather event from increased precipitation to drought and tropical cyclones.
Hypoxia—or deoxygenation—is another hazard facing the oceans. Largely caused by the over-enrichment of waters with nutrients and organic matter from fertilizer run-off, sewage and industrial waste; hypoxia prohibits the growth and reproduction of organisms in the ocean. There are now more than 500 known hypoxic dead zones in the oceans endangering important ecosystems.
Sea level rise is caused by melting glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets and thermal expansion of the ocean and changes in terrestrial storage. Sea level rise has accelerated from approximately 1.8 mm per year over the last five decades to 3.1 per year in the 1990s and 2.5 mm per year from 2003-2007. It is a major threat to island nations and communities based along shore lines with some island nations projected to disappear completely with even modest increases.
Pollution in the study includes oil spills, toxic chemicals, radioactivity and plastic debris. These pollutants contaminate ocean waters, damaging ecosystems and killing or contaminating the ocean’s organisms, making them unsafe to eat.
The overuse of marine resources is the last major danger identified by the study. Over fishing is threatening the long term sustainability of the ocean’s resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that 85 percent of fish stocks are fully exploited, over exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion.
The study notes that the impact of these multiple stressors that are often interconnected creates an impact greater then the sum of its parts known as synergistic response. It also looks into the economic costs that will result from these hazards to the world’s oceans.
The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet. It is a major source of food and regulates the planets weather. It’s safety and health is invaluable for the world’s human population.
The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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