By now you may have become a full expert on ocean acidification: We have:
- Learned the chemistry behind ocean acidification
- Looked at the geological past of ocean acidification
- Watched visuals to better understand ocean acidification, from infomercials, to case studies, to Ted Talks
- Read about ocean acidification through blogs, academic journals, newspapers, organizations
- Learned about the impact of OA on marine life, ecosystems, and its greater implications on the global food web, human well-being, and life on earth
- Learned that the full impacts on OA are still unknown
- Have been schooled in the subject, and can separate bogus from truth
- Understood that everyone on earth needs to make a difference in resolving ocean acidification: from policy makers, to industry, to scientists, to citizens, etc
- Witnessed the greater scientific community come to consensus about OA. That it is primarily caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and that OA can be remedied if CO2 emissions are curbed
- Witnessed the greater scientific community informing policy makers on ocean acidification
- Witnessed the world leaders respond to the scientific community with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Kyoto Protocol, and much more that we can write about for days
- Learned that unfortunately, without policy makers, things may not change. The Sustainable Development Goals should lead to policy forming that will curb CO2 emissions from industry, economic growth, energy use, development, consumption, etc. around the world. Without policy influence, there is little incentive for industry to not externalize their costs through polluting the atmosphere with Carbon Dioxide. Now that policy makers around the globe have committed to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions, there is international pressure to make this happen. This international pressure is needed to keep eachother in check, and to make sure we truly look to resolve this transnational problem. Because, alike industry, nations also externalize their costs when they emit high amounts of Carbon Dioxide and other countries have to pay for these costs. In turn, informed and educated citizens can make demand from the governments to enforce these policies even more. The consumer is the person carrying the voting power in the store. An informed educated person may not wish to purchase products that contribute to climate change and OA. Think about how fur coats have become unacceptable in modern society because they come from endangered animals. When the general public is informed and educated, when they truly understand the importance of recycling, energy use, pollution, production, etc, industry and behavior that degrade our environment can truly become unacceptable too. We still purchase wood furniture that is logged illegally, we still drive cars that emit significant amounts of Carbon Dioxide, we still burn coal for energy needs while we can invest in clean energy. All these practices and an infinite number more are still acceptable to the general public. Policy makers can adhere to scientific data, and improve the environment, but truly when the public begins to demand a sustainable future, policy will be even much more efficient in sustainable development than what it is today. And this can be achieved through educating the public.
Now what’s next (lowering Carbon Dioxide emissions):
- You can play a part in mitigating CO2 emissions too. First, become a rolemodel in reducing your own carbon emissions through any shape or form, where possible. Second, inform your friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers on your knowledge of OA. Inform them what they can do to reduce OA, how they could make lifestyle changes, how they can pressure politics and companies. And how they can make conscious product purchases
- Nations should educate it’s citizens on environmental sustainability, and ocean acidification
- Policy makers should govern with a purpose to maintain a sustainable planet today, and in the future (not solely based on maximum economic growth, and no sustainable future)
- The international political community should keep each other in check, and pressure one another to fully commit to Sustainability Goals as well as curbing Carbon Dioxide emissions
- Policy makers should keep companies in check, by not allowing them to externalize production costs through pollution. When governments take measures to penalize governments for emissions, are involved in a cap and trade system, or limit or ban emissions alltogether, companies have no other choice but to alter the way they produce products, generate energy, etc.
- Companies should become good stewards to the environment, and should adhere to environmental law through policy enforcement
- Technology can only help us so much, until thresholds are passed and we may tip into a state where recovery is difficult. Remember that chemicals have a life cycle, and ecosystem restoration is very expensive
- The public should keep policy and companies in check. We shouldn’t wait for governments to move to action, or for industry to change, we should call for their action today, it is good to have deadlines in 2020, in 2030, and 2050, but we need changes now. Every day of environmental degradation (such as more acidic oceans) has a major cost on society every day. Fisheries may collapse tomorrow and impact human communities who live on these fishes for income and subsistence. In addition, we shouldn’t purchase products that pollute the environment, we are also voters at the cash register. We should demand clean energy to power our homes, our cars, and more. What is the point of having a hybrid car, when the electricity used to fuel the car is generated from fossil fuels? Many people have no idea that energy comes from fossil fuels, let alone what fossil fuels do to the environment.
- Economic growth today should not be at the expense of economic collapse in the future (due to the massive loss of ecosystem services, the oceans being one of them when they become too acidic)
- Carbon taxing: by imposing a carbon tax, alike any other form of taxation, we can provide incentives for consumers and industry to seek products that are carbon neutral. If carbon tax is higher than the profits industry gets from carbon emissions, they will seek ways to clean up their products. In addition, if carbon tax is also imposed on consumer end products (double taxation) consumers prefer to spend less money where possible, and will purchase the cheaper, carbon neutral product instead.
A big picture idea that I am very enthusiastic about that can help mitigate CO2 emissions
- Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)
- ReduceEmissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)
- “Creating a mechanism by which beneficiaries of conservation pay those who produce (or choose not to degrade) ecosystem services has generated tremendous enthusiasm as a potential pathway to sustainability. Reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) has emerged as a promising “global project”, producing excitement about the potential to mitigate carbon emissions from tropical forests, and thereby reduce global GHG emissions at relatively low cost. REDD+ has been seen as a tool that could mitigate climate change, and at the same time achieve multiple “co-benefits” such as poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation” (Steven Wolf, Cornell University).
With all the knowledge that we have now accumulated, we should now go and SAVE THE OCEANS!