Greening the Oceans January 12, 2009 : 3:32 PM

Last Tuesday, George Bush announced plans to protect 195,000 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean. This area is “50 percent larger than all U.S. national parks combined.”

While this is a great step, the only way to truly protect these ecosystems is to reduce CO2 emissions, which not only are the source of the climate crisis, but also acidify the oceans.

Ocean acidification knows no boundaries, nor do the other impacts of climate change on our oceans.

As Vikki Spruill, president and chief executive of Ocean Conservancy, wrote,

“The effects of climate change on the oceans are widespread; higher air and water temperatures alone have produced changes including the loss of sea ice, shifts in ocean circulation, rises in sea level, extreme weather events and harmful changes to fish and other marine wildlife. The increased concentration of carbon dioxide has led to acidification of ocean water, threatening the crucial base of the food web."

The new head of NOAA, Professor Jane Lubchenco (who was recently appointed by President-elect Barack Obama) is one of the world’s leading authorities on the acidification of the world’s oceans and the growing problem of “dead zones”. She is one of the most able scientists I have ever worked with and is a powerful advocate for saving the global environment.

In the latest version of my slide show I use this image, which I have adapted from the Nov 14th issue of Nature.


It shows the crisis of oxygen loss in the oceans. Just look at the vast area of the Pacific Ocean stretching from North and South American westward and notice the catastrophe apparently in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal surrounding the subcontinent of India.