On Monday and Tuesday, I witnessed something inspiring. I watched my Secretary of State, John Kerry, passionately and forcefully address the pressing ocean issues of our time. I watched leaders from around the world come together and commit to protecting the ocean—the precious resource that, as my fellow panelist Carol Turley said, “Is what makes Earth different from all other planets.”
Above all, I listened and watched as ocean acidification, an issue I have been passionate about for years, became a focal point of dialogue on ocean conservation. President Obama and Secretary Kerry spoke strongly, and did not try to weasel their way around the issues at hand. Sir David King, Special Representative for Climate Change in the United Kingdom, said, “Climate change, together with ocean acidification, represents the greatest diplomatic challenge of our time.” Secretary Kerry called for a change in politics, saying “Energy policy is the solution to climate change.”
To see leaders from around the world and my own country take on ocean acidification, and its root cause, so strongly, was incredible.
As I said in my presentation to attendees at the Our Ocean conference, in addition to global reductions in CO2 pollution, there is a critical need for increased monitoring of ocean chemistry around the world. This need is particularly pronounced in regions with communities who depend on fish and shellfish. This week, The Ocean Foundation and other groups from around the world contributed funding to this critical cause. This will provide for a huge step forward in our understanding of local and global trends in ocean chemistry. In turn, this understanding will allow us to identify regions of the ocean where the impacts are most pronounced, expand our research efforts in those areas, and help communities that would otherwise be fighting an invisible enemy.
This additional funding for global ocean acidification monitoring as well as the ocean acidification awareness generated by the conference make me excited and hopeful. I am excited to see what the global community can do together, and hopeful that our actions will make a difference for the billions of people who depend on the ocean.
Watch the ocean acidification panel from the Our Ocean Conference here: