The main reason why many of us are participating in the COP is because we are interested in bridging the gap between science and policy. As a natural scientist, I often think that if I make a logical argument it will convince people they should care about climate change impacts in the ocean. From personal experience, it seems to be a lot harder than that.
Tune in at 13:30 ET on December 3, 2014 to hear about how ocean acidification is impacting marine communities around the world and what the economic costs of these impacts are.
This side-event will be live web-streamed at www.youtube.com/TheUSCenter and will be availble for future viewing as well. The side event is led by Dr. Libby Jewett who is the director of NOAA's Ocean Acidification program and she will be discussing the needs for an "EKG for the sea." The side-event will be started off by a presentation from Dr. Carol Turley, a senior scientist at the Plymouth Marine Lab, on the science of ocean acidification. I will then follow with a talk on ocean acidification in upwelling regions and the need for a mult-stressor perspective when looking at areas of the world where both low oxygen and low pH conditions influence marine communities. We are very happy to have a truly international perspective at this side event and two of the speakers (Dr. Nelson Lagos and PhD student Laura Ramajo Gallardo) are joining us from Chile. Dr. Lagos is the Director for the Center of Research and Innovations for Climate Change at Santo Tomas University in Santiago, Chile, and he and Laura will give some specific examples about the impacts of ocean acidification in Latin American counties. We will be giving RAPID 5-minute talks, so it will be a great opportunity to learn about the global scientific focus on ocean acidification and what we've learned so far about ocean acidification impacts.
We look forward to a great side-event!
Yesterday morning the first members of our delegation (Lisa Levin, Jennifer Le, and Natalya Gallo) arrived in Lima, Peru. Sierra From the moment we arrived, it was clear that Lima was geared up and ready for the COP. We were immediately greeted at the airport with COP signage, helpers were displaying print-outs of the COP logo, and even the passport control officials were wearing pins about the COP.
Upon arriving at the COP venue, we saw all the new pavilions that had been built to host the conference this year. The venue location itself is very beautiful. Located on the expansive grounds of the Pentagonito, the Peruvian Army headquarters, the open-air venue offered evocative art displays, charming gardens, and a buzz of excitement from delegates from all around the world. The new pavillions are showcased in this video.
By many people’s standards, the UN climate change conference (commonly called COP19) lived up to its expectations, or, to be accurate, its lack thereof. In predicting limited outcomes, the world had pre-destined it to be a complete failure. And just as naughty children usually tend to continue trouble-making behavior when their parents treat them as little tyrants, so, too, did the COP live up to its fate to deliver little on its objectives as it has historically done.
But was it really a complete failure? And what exactly were the objectives set forth?
Wow… What a whirlwind experience these last two weeks have been! I had to leave before the end of the second week of the COP so I could return just in time for a deep-sea cruise on the R/V Sproul this weekend. But that’s how it goes - graduate school responsibilities call! I’m ready to go home, but it’s pretty weird to think I won’t be spending all my time at the Warsaw National Stadium anymore and living with my wonderful SIO colleagues.
Overall, I left feeling so fulfilled and inspired by my COP experience. I also left saturated to the brim with knowledge that’s very different from the type I accumulate day to day in graduate school. I’m pretty sure no major deal will be reached at the end of this COP, so perhaps the COP itself was not successful, but for me, it was an extremely successful experience because it taught me a lot about how scientists can inform policy. And I had a blast working with my fantastic SIO colleagues!
One of the important themes that has come up both during the question and answer for the event on Climate Change and the World’s Oceans that I presented at, and during informal conversations with delegates, was the types of mitigation and adaptation policies that are needed to respond to the consequences of climate change in the ocean. As a delegate from the Solomon Islands told me after a lengthy discussion on ocean impacts: it’s great to know about the problems, but now let me know what types of solutions we can implement.
One of the main insights I gained from this COP experience is that you can have an impact on policy as a scientist, particularly when attending such a high-level international conference. This is quite contrary to what I was expecting. I came to the COP expecting that as a young scientist I would just be drowned out in the bustle and that the COP may not be the right place to present scientific data, since it’s really a mechanism for legislative negotiations.
The government of Poland was heavily criticized for agreeing to host the International Climate and Coal Summit alongside the UN climate change conference (COP19). This came as an additional blow to climate change mitigation efforts after Poland announced earlier during the first week of the COP that it would pursue 100% coal-based energy production and phase out renewable energy projects by 2060, as the most economical energy option.
During the COP, it became quite apparent that the way forward should include more international collaboration (and cooperation in general) on research topics pertinent to climate change impacts in the marine environment. By having a global network of colleagues, several goals are reached. These include, having better overall monitoring (and thus a better understanding of the global ocean), making use of the different scientific perspectives in different countries (more insights), and increasing the scope and broader impacts of your topic at the global level (more languages, more local knowledge).
Imagine you're sitting in a movie theater, it's dark (duh) and some moderately bad flick is playing. Say 'A Good Day to Die Hard', or something. The best part about it is that junk food you've got sitting in your lap. Today, you're chomping down on Sour Patch Kids. Chomp. Chomp.
With each piece munched, your mouth gets increasingly sour; this begins very pleasantly, but the pleasure with each additional Kid begins to drop. At some point sour becomes too sour, which then becomes uncomfortably sour, which becomes a mild tongue burn, to a moderate burn, to just a nastily painful, sour acid burned tongue. If you've been in this situation before, don't feel bad, I've been there too. If you haven't been there, Sour Patch Kids are uncannily addictive, and ending up with a tortured tongue is all too common. You just can't stop.
It’s an exciting time to be a young, female scientist at the COP. Four of our six co-founders of Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy fall into this category, which is underrepresented at the COP at large. This places us in a unique position to play an influential role. The international community is recognizing the importance of hearing the voices of youth and women around climate change issues. In this vein, the UNFCCC created two whole days to honor women and youth, of only four thematic days at COP19: Young and Future Generations Day, which is historically on the first Thursday of the conference, and Gender Day, which was today, November 19.
Our group is keeping it real at the COP, trying to make sure that the oceans make it into the climate change policy process. For the most part we're trying to keep our coverage upbeat. There's a lot of (deserved) doom and gloom in the writing and coverage of climate change. Sometimes a bit of levity can be refreshing. But, there are some issues that, no matter how you cast them, are simply sad.
Well, we've now all made it to Warsaw. Lauren and Natasha are lucky enough to have accreditation for both weeks of the conference, but the rest of us are only accredited for the second week. Fortunately for us, the second week is when a lot of the big-wigs show up and when more of the 'action' happens.
Warsaw is alright, though definitely no San Diego. We're pretty spoiled on that front. Here the weather is dreary, the people are (too) fashionable, the structures are blocky, and the food is meaty, very meaty. We are having a good time getting settled in, and enjoying our shared company. My colleagues are pretty damn funny, for being scientists.
Yesterday we ran into a climate protest and chatted up some of the participants. More on that in a bit. Today we're working on putting together videos and setting up for tomorrow, when the action begins. So, hold tight; we're about to roll.
Scientists are normal people. Normal is defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle, or conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” It’s surprisingly easy to make the very idea of normal sound like jargon. How about cheeseburgers? A Cheeseburger, as defined by Furbster’s Dictionary*, is a pulverized bovine protein spheroid accompanied by coagulated milk protein casein, encapsulated in a baked roll of refined wheat. The wizardry of science and technical information works both for us and against us. By re-packaging scientists as the truth-seeking, normal people they are, we can connect the public with scientific issues.
The oceans are slated to become hot, sour, and breathless in the decades to come. And, to describe the sour part of this equation, on November 18th Lauren will be giving her talk on ocean acidification at the "Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem" side event at the UN's COP. The talks at this side event will cover the most recent science on the issue and policy actions being taken to address it. Speakers will also highlight the need for continued research, global ocean monitoring networks, and further policy actions.
I had the exciting opportunity to present at a joint event on Climate Change and the World’s Oceans with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Carmen Boening at the US Center yesterday. My presentation was titled Ocean Deoxygenation in a Warming World and was focused on how climate change is causing the oceans to lose oxygen, and what the biological ramifications of these oxygen reductions will be. I’m also pretty sure this is the first time deoxygenation got coverage at a COP even though the consequences are very pertinent to policymakers.
Today Yassir and Amy were on KPBS's Midday Edition discussing our upcoming efforts at the COP and recent research on how climate change will affect our oceans. Listen in and read about it here!
With an approaching deadline of 2015 for the Global Climate Treaty, an expiring Kyoto Protocol of 31 December 2013, an ending Bali Longterm Cooperative Action Track, and a vaguely worded Green Climate Fund, there were too many expectations for COP 18 in Doha, Qatar last year. In fact, Doha was expected to be a “gateway” from a period of ambitious but vague promises to an era of concrete targets and measurable actions.