Friday, October 17, 2014

Federal Watchdog:  U.S. Government Not Doing Enough to Stop Oceans from Turning Acidic

In this Jan. 15, 2010 file photo, a sea otter is seen in Morro Bay, Calif. From sea otters to blue whales, marine mammals are under stress from climate change, ocean acidification, hunting and other threats.  (Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon) Click to enlarge.
The federal government agencies tasked with studying, monitoring, and preventing the widespread acidification of our oceans have not been doing their job as well as they could be, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and NASA have indeed been spending money on efforts to study ocean acidification, a phenomenon that happens when oceans absorb the carbon dioxide humans emit from power plants, deforestation, manufacturing, and driving.  But more of that money needs to go toward actual strategies to mitigate and stop ocean acidification if detrimental impacts to ocean ecosystems, and by extension the U.S. economy, are to be avoided, the GAO said.

“GAO recommends the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President take steps to improve the federal response to ocean acidification,” the report said.  “[That includes] estimating the funding that would be needed to implement the research and monitoring plan and designating the entity responsible for coordinating the next steps in the federal response.”

Ocean acidification is one of the biggest and least-talked-about effects of global warming. More than 25 percent of all human-made carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean, and because of that, their acid levels have increased by a staggering 26 percent over the last 200 years, according to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.
Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the oceans affects their entire chemistry, thereby impacting marine ecosystems, potentially compromising the health of the oceans — not to mention their ability to provide economic services to the U.S. and beyond.  The science on just how bad these impacts will be is still developing, and federal agencies are required under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 to create a plan to monitor and address the situation.

Read  More in Federal Watchdog:  U.S. Government Not Doing Enough to Stop Oceans from Turning Acidic

No comments:

Post a Comment