Friday, January 30, 2009

Monaco Declaration on Ocean Acidification

A group of the world's experts on ocean chemistry and marine ecosystems are calling for immediate action on CO2 emissions to avoid further damage to the oceans (link to pdf). The
"Monaco Declaration" is the outcome of the second "The Ocean in a High-CO2 World" international symposium.

Here's their take-home message:

Ocean acidification can be controlled only by limiting future atmospheric CO2 levels. So-called geo-engineering strategies that would not aim to restrict future atmospheric CO2 concentrations would not reduce ocean acidification. Mitigation strategies that aim to transfer CO2 to the ocean, for example by direct deepsea disposal of CO2 or by fertilising the ocean to stimulate biological productivity, would enhance ocean acidification in some areas while reducing it in others.

Climate-change negotiations focused on stabilizing greenhouse gases must consider not only the total radiation balance; they must also consider atmospheric CO2 as a pollutant, an acid gas whose release to the atmosphere must be curtailed in order to limit ocean acidification. Hence, limits (stabilization targets) for atmospheric CO2 defined based on ocean acidification may differ from those based on surface temperature increases and climate change. Despite a seemingly bleak outlook, there remains hope.

We have a choice, and there is still time to act if serious and sustained actions are initiated without further delay. First and foremost, policymakers need to realize that ocean acidification is not a peripheral issue. It is the other CO2 problem that must be grappled with alongside climate change. Reining in this double threat, caused by our dependence on fossil fuels, is the challenge of the century.

Solving this problem will require a monumental worldwide effort. All countries must contribute, and developed countries must lead by example and by engineering new technologies to help solve the problem. Promoting these technologies will be rewarded economically, and prevention of severe environmental degradation will be far less costly for all nations than would be trying to live with the consequences of the present approach where CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to increase, year after year.

Fortunately, partial remedies already on the table, if implemented together, could solve most of the problem. We must start to act now because it will take years to change the energy infrastructure and to overcome the atmosphere’s accumulation of excess CO2, which takes time to invade the ocean.

1 comment:

Maui Manini said...

In the U.S., it's still important for President Obama to hear from voters because compromises are being made. And, elected representatives in Congress also need to hear from voters.