Living on the Edge

Last Thursday, Sailors for the Sea board chairman, David Rockefeller, Jr. kicked off an exciting event Living on the Edge: The Atlantic Cup presents Coastal Communities & Climate Change.

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The evening celebrated The Atlantic Cup, a two-time gold level Clean Regatta and the first carbon neutral sailing race in the United States. David noted, in his opening remarks: “Of course, sailors are natural supporters of the environment. That’s why we do it, that’s what we love, but we’re not always aware of the problems under the hull, and we know that with the help of events like the Atlantic Cup, we can galvanize sailors, in particular, into action to protect our oceans.

The Atlantic Cup is environmentally forward-thinking, and a truly unique race.  Boats use alternative energy including hydro-generators, fuel cells and solar panels. Another great fact is that no single use plastic water bottles are used at any time during the race!

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The panel entitled “Telltales” was moderated by Global Green USA’s President Matt Petersen (far right) and discussed climate change at the convergence of land and water. Panelists from left to right included: Chip Giller, President and Founder of Grist.org, Hannah Jenner, skipper for 40 Degrees Racing, and Dr. Ben Strauss the Chief Operating Officer and Director on Sea Level Rise for Climate Central. We have pulled a few highlights from the evenings discussion – we hope you enjoy!.

Dr. Ben Strauss made the point that storms are like a pot of water, as you increase the heat, the pot goes to a rolling boil. We currently have a similar situation with the oceans. The increased ocean temperatures are like turning up the heat on the stove and we are seeing more powerful storms. This clearly will have an affect on boaters around the world.

Hannah Jenner noted how she felt sailors are an important part of environmentalist movement stating: “We not only see the storms, up front, in your face, we also see the trash…plastics floating past and oil slicks coming off of ships passing, and it’s upsetting.

Chip Giller noted: “It all is very grim, but I just want to say, this discussion wouldn’t have been happening 10 years ago. And it’s a testament to Sailors for the Sea and others to keep the battles going so we really can’t give up hope.” He also noted that sailors can make a difference by looking at their own boats: “it’s a place where you guys are already adapting, thinking about how to make do with less and being really efficient, and I think there could be some cross-pollination in terms of the adaptation discussions. I think you should all make sure that you are members of Sailors for the Sea. I think there are ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Those are the practical things.

Matt Peterson ended the panel encouraging people to: “reclaim your role as citizens, become a citizen entrepreneur, unleash your crazy ideas as you try to take responsibility for your little corner of the world, on the ocean, or if it’s your twitter account, using whatever channels you have, what ever communities you are part of, to be a part of turning it all around!

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Earth Day

Today marks the 43rd Earth Day and this year the focus is: Face of Climate Change. Since 71% of the earth is covered by the ocean – let’s take a quick look at what climate change is doing to our oceans.

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Ocean Acidification
Did you know the ocean absorbs a lot carbon dioxide? In fact the daily intake is approximately 22 million metric tons. If you guessed that this is creating a problem, you are correct.  Often nicknamed “global warming’s evil twin,” ocean acidification is the changing of the pH balance of the ocean. The fundamental changes in seawater chemistry occurring throughout the world’s oceans is drawing more attention. An important case study on the effects of ocean acidification can be seen in the Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries, which in the past few years had serious decline in production in an industry that accounts for more than $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry and supports more than 3,000 jobs. Learn more about ocean acidification and how scientist and fisherman are working together to be able to keep the oyster industry running. Also read our past ocean watch essay on Ocean Acidification.

Coral Bleaching
Climate change impacts have been identified as one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise on land, our sea temperatures also get warmer. Particularly in tropic zones this has caused coral bleaching to become an all to common occurrence. When water becomes too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.  When a coral bleaches, it is not dead, however they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. To learn more about coral reef’s in crisis, visit coralreefsystems.org and read our past Ocean Watch Essay, Assessing the Health of Coral Reefs.

What can you do?
While these problems can be daunting, an easy way to help reduce climate change is reducing your carbon footprint! Asses your carbon footprint and learn how you can help make a difference!

Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems

A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems

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This map, created by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, is just an impressive (or scary) way to look at the ocean. Created back in 2008, we are wondering how much more red there would be on the map – and would there be any blue left? What do you think?

To learn more about how the map was made, click here.

The Island President – How global warming is impacting a nation

The Island PresidentSailors for the Sea is excited to partner with newportFILM for a screening of the documentary The Island President. newportFILM is a non-profit dedicated to nurture discovery, creative achievement and community dialogue through the art of film.

The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced – the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. The Maldives is one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands, making them uninhabitable. A film about one man’s mission to save his nation and perhaps the planet. This is a “sneak-peek” screening before it comes out in theaters and then it will be a limited release. The film won the Audience Award for a Documentary at this past Toronto Film Festival.

The evening starts at 6pm with a wine reception and food provided by salvation café (optional) The film screening starts at 7pm followed by a special Q&A session, moderated by Virgina Lee climate change expert and senior coastal manager at the Coastal Resources Center at URI.

We are excited to share this important topic on the big screen and invite you to come out and learn how global warming is currently impacting peoples lives. As a coastal community we feel that this film will resonate with Newporters.

Watch the trailer below and we recommend purchasing tickets in advance from newportFILM’s website. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Global Ocean Forum

The Global Ocean Forum recently announced that oceans and coasts have taken a prominent role in the discussions leading up to the Rio+20 Conference (UN Conference on Sustainable Development) to take place June 20-22, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Over 50% of all Member States, and all political groups and regional preparatory outcomes, recognized oceans or ocean-related information in their input submissions to the Rio+20 compilation document. Member States highlighting oceans in their submissions included both developed and developing countries, and spanned all regions of the world.

Common concerns included addressing the effects of climate change on coastal communities, the special needs of small island developing States (SIDS), loss of marine biodiversity, pressures on fisheries, the need for ocean-related capacity development, and addressing marine pollution. For some States, proposals to improve the institutional framework for sustainable development included support for strengthening Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), and the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy and the Barbados Plan of Implementation.

Thanks to the Global Ocean Forum for sharing this exciting news.

What do you think? Are you surprised that 50% of the member states are concerned about their oceans? Would you have thought the number would be lower or higher?