Next Steps

Climate talks begin Dec. 7, 2009 in Copenhagen. Credit: United Nations.

The oceans are a commonwealth resource, and therefore, research on ocean acidification needs to be coordinated. An international program to assess current conditions and to plan the next steps will require considerable funding. The tools to conduct this research–ships, buoys, and autonomous platforms–are expensive. (Ocean Acidification, 2009)

If the U.S. was to start its own ocean acidification program, it would need about $50 million a year, according to an estimate by the Subcommittee on Ocean Acidification of the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program. Such a program could survive on $30 million a year to start with but would need between $50 and 100 million once it’s in full force. The US Congress passed the FOARAM (Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act) on March 25, 2009, which allows between $10-35 million to be spent per year on this research; while this is not ideal, it will allow research to move forward at a faster rate, essential because this is a time-sensitive issue. (Ocean Acidification, 2009)

Beyond the need for more funding and transnational as well as cross-group collaboration, scientists need to build public awareness. Findings published need to be done so in a way that the general public is able to understand the problem and push legislators for support of the conservation of the oceans. Ultimately, the solution to ocean acidification involves cutting CO2 emissions, which will require a collaborative effort from everyone. Also, policy makers need to be able to understand the problem too so that they can draft corrective measures, so the language of the findings must not be in jargon that policy makers cannot understand. (Orr et al., 2009)

The problem of ocean acidification requires immediate action. Governments need to take a strong stance and point society in a direction that does not include any net carbon emissions.  Energy efficiency and low carbon fuels need to be promoted, or better yet, a complete switch to alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, needs to occur. Carbon emissions need to be regulated. This can only be done by creating a system that taxes or puts a price on carbon emissions so that economies will act to protect our common resources.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December is the place for industrialized countries to commit themselves to reduce harmful emissions. While this conference will not result in a new binding treaty on global warming as it was initially intended to do, it will hopefully clear some things up, particularly how much industrialized nations are willing to reduce their emissions, how much major developing countries are willing to limit the growth of their emissions, how the help needed by developing countries to reduce their CO2 emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change will be financed, and how the money going into these efforts will be managed. (Bulow, 2009)

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