The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
VIDEO: Facing Climate Change—How Ocean Acidification is Impacting Oyster Farmers
Kathleen Nisbet and her father, Dave, farm oysters in Washington's Willapa Bay. They recently shifted some of their business to Hawai'i, after ocean acidification started killing baby oysters in local hatcheries.
Over the past 250 years, the world's oceans have absorbed about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide that humans have put into the air by burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide lowers the pH of oceans, turning waters more acidic. The Northwest is home to some of the most corrosive waters on earth. Washington State in particular is an ocean acidification hotspot due to coastal upwelling that delivers cold water, low in pH and rich in carbon dioxide, from the deep ocean to its coasts. In Hawai'i, where coastal upwelling does not occur, the water is warmer and acidity is increasing less rapidly.
Ocean acidification makes it more difficult for oyster larvae and young oysters to grow and maintain their protective shells. Shells may even dissolve in increasingly acidic waters, leading to higher mortality in young oysters. Dave finds success in shipping baby oysters from Hawai'i and maturing them in Willapa Bay.
The Nisbet's story may be unique, but they are not alone. Washington supports the most productive commercial shellfish operation on the West Coast, a multi-million dollar industry at risk. Yet the issue exceeds lost profits. Not all farmers can invest in warmer waters. Coastal tribes harvest wild shellfish for economic and subsistence uses. Healthy seas help build livelihoods in rural communities. So what next?
Under rising emissions scenarios, ocean acidity may increase 100 to 150 percent by the end of the century. In response, farmers are using new technologies to monitor the acidity levels of hatchery waters. Young scientists are devoting their careers to understanding risk and resilience. Former Washington Governor Gregoire formed a blue ribbon panel on ocean acidification and issued an Executive Order to implement key actions. Washington State is pioneering efforts to tackle ocean acidification so that its waters continue to serve as a source of prosperity and inspiration. We need all hands on deck.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.