Healthy Oceans Binding Carbon

Oceans play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Not only do they represent the largest long-term sink for carbon but they also store and redistribute CO2. Some 93% of the earth’s CO2 (40 Tt) is stored and cycled through the oceans.

Blue CarbonThe ocean’s vegetated habitats, in particular mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, cover <0.5% of the sea bed. These form earth’s blue carbon sinks and account for more than 50%, perhaps as much as 71%, of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. They comprise only 0.05% of the plant biomass on land, but store a comparable amount of carbon per year, and thus rank among the most intense carbon sinks on the planet. Blue carbon sinks and estuaries capture and store between 235–450 Tg C every year – or the equivalent of up to half of the emissions from the entire global transport sector, estimated at around 1,000 Tg C yr–1. By preventing the further loss and degradation of these ecosystems and catalyzing their recovery, we can contribute to offsetting 3–7% of current fossil fuel emissions (totaling 7,200 Tg C yr–1) in two decades – over half of that projected for reducing rainforest deforestation. The effect would be equivalent to at least 10% of the reductions needed to keep concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere below 450 ppm. If managed properly, blue carbon sinks, therefore, have the potential to play an important role in mitigating climate change. Continue reading

UN Secretary criticizes G8 on climate change

I’m in Geneva, Switzerland right  now attending a meeting at the UN on global health. I had the privilege of meeting Ban Ki Moon briefly on Monday when he stopped by an exhibit I put together for the conference. He was quiet, and gracious, and personable. I couldn’t help but wonder what his thoughts are on this week’s G8 summit in Italy. Global health is on the agenda here this week, but there it’s been all about the economy and climate change. Following the progress of this week’s summit on the refreshingly Michael Jackson-free BBC Europe and CNN International channels, I was disappointed to see that little progress was made. Today, Ban Ki Moon spoke out against the G8 stating “The policies that they have stated so far are not enough, this is politically and morally (an) imperative and historic responsibility … for the future of humanity, even for the future of the planet Earth.” Continue reading

1st International Marine Conservation Congress

imccThe Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology will be hosting its first stand-alone meeting, the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), from 20-24 May 2009 at George Mason University near Washington D.C. This will be an interdisciplinary meeting that will engage natural and social scientists, managers, policy-makers, and the public. The goal of the IMCC is to put conservation science into practice through public and media outreach and the development of concrete products (e.g., policy briefs, blue ribbon position papers) that will be used to drive policy change and implementation. Continue reading

Climate change is a certain threat

Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert DisasterMarch 6, 2009 – Why does the public often pay more attention to climate change deniers than climate scientists? Why do denial arguments that have been thoroughly debunked still show up regularly in the media?

Some researchers from New York’s Fordham University may have found some answers. Prof. David Budescu and his colleagues asked 223 volunteers to read sentences from reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The responses revealed some fundamental misunderstandings about how science works. Continue reading

Congratulations President Obama!

Congratulations President Obama! Yesterday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama was so inspiring and wonderful it is hard to describe. What a landmark event in US history! We finally have a tangible reason to hope, and to continue to act, for a better future for our planet. Obama has enormous tasks before him to get the US back on track economically, politically, and environmentally. He’ll now be expected to fix the economy, divert us and the rest of the world from a global depression, improve foreign relations and foreign policy to restore America’s reputation abroad and at home, solve the health care and education messes, and at least slow global warming so that our children have a world worth living in. Thankfully he has help. A strong cabinet, both houses in Congress, overwhelming support of the American people and billions of global citizens, a wife who seems as amazing as he is, and two beautiful daughters who are clearly devoted to their father. Continue reading

Penguins = canaries in a coal mine

Spheniscus magellanicusI always loved the song “Canary in a Coal Mine” by the Police:

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

Now the first line of the song and the comparison of penguins to canaries in coal mines is disturbing. Are we going to be a generation remembered for celebrating penguins in films like “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” only to be the generation that announces their extinction? I hope not. It would be a tragic loss to the animal kingdom and to mankind. Continue reading