Saturday, September 17, 2016

Obama Unveils Undersea Sanctuary in Expanded Fight on Warming

President Obama speaks at the Our Ocean conference at the State Department yesterday. He established the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo Credit: AP Image) Click to Enlarge.
President Obama told representatives of 90 countries Thursday that taking steps to safeguard the world's oceans is crucial in a warming world.

Speaking at the third annual Our Ocean conference, hosted this year by the State Department in Washington, D.C., Obama urged action to relieve stress on the world's oceans as they cope with climate change.

"Our conservation efforts and our obligations to combat climate change, in fact, go hand in hand because marine areas already have enough to worry about, with overfishing and ship traffic and pollution — like those patches of plastic waste floating in the Pacific and the invisible pollutants like carbon that we cannot see," he said.  "The more of those threats that we eliminate through conservation, the more resilient those ecosystems will be to the consequences of climate change."

Without healthy oceans, Obama said, the objectives of last year's Paris Agreement will be harder to achieve.  And with more than 500 ocean dead zones around the world, the seas are currently under stress.
Stresses like land-based pollution and overfishing compromise the ocean's ability to regulate the climate.  Seas have absorbed about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and as much as 90 percent of excess heat over the last few decades, according to scientists.  That has contributed to higher acidity, fish migrations and rising tides.

Secretary of State John Kerry warned the conference, attended by foreign ministers from around the world, "If that unraveling continues much longer, a significant chunk of marine life may simply die out because it can no longer survive in the very waters that have nourished it since time began."

Obama yesterday created the first national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, preserving nearly 5,000 square miles of deep-sea canyons and seamounts off the coast of New England.  The designation comes after Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii last month, creating the world's largest ecologically protected area.

About 3 percent of the world's oceans is now under protection, but Obama said more will be needed if the next generation is to experience a healthy ocean.

Read more at Obama Unveils Undersea Sanctuary in Expanded Fight on Warming

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