Climate & Ocean Acidification

What specific actions will you take, and what will you ask the American people to do to reverse global climate change and ocean acidification?

The Problems are not hard to understand

Together we can solve them

Here’s what everyone needs to know about climate change and ocean acidification and why it’s all of our responsibility to solve them now.

The majority of Americans believe global warming is real, caused by human activity and will worsen unless we act.

The majority of Americans believe the United States should act to reduce CO2 and other global warming gasses.

Long Established Scientific Facts
It is an established fact that adding Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to the air holds more heat from the sun, and dissolving C02 in water makes the water more acidic. These are facts that are not new or in dispute. They have been known by scientists since early in the last century and can be easily and reliability demonstrated in a lab or even your own kitchen if you have the right equipment.

How Do Humans Produce Climate Change
Everyone understands that when we burn fuels like coal, oil, and gasoline, we release carbon into the air. That carbon combines with oxygen molecules to form carbon dioxide CO2. Other gasses, like Methane, also hold in more heat from sunlight, and so does water vapor. The higher global temperatures go, the more water vapor and methane gets into the atmosphere and even more heat from sunlight is retained.

Just Look and See the Added C02
It doesn’t take a scientist to see that we are adding enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other compounds to the air. Just look at any major city freeway, coal fired power plant, or other source and you can see it happening every single day. More than 79,000,000,000 pounds (that’s 79 Trillion pounds) of C02 went into the atmosphere and oceans in the last year alone. Since the dawn of the industrial age, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by about 30%.

The Predicted Effects Are In Fact Happening Woridwide
Is adding all this Carbon Dioxide to the air and water in fact making the Earth warmer and the water more acidic? Unfortunately, it is. 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. The hottest ten years ever recorded by modern instruments have all happened since 1998. Meanwhile, the acidity of the oceans is increasing, with measured acidity in many parts of the globe rising even faster than had been expected.

The Consequences Are Profound And Expensive
Again, it doesn’t take a scientist to understand that turning ice into water and snow into rain, is going to change things. What is a bit harder to get our heads around is what happens when entire glaciers begin to melt and the sea level rises. To appreciate that, just consider how many people in our own country and around the world live at or very near the coast. Best counts suggest that several hundred million people live in areas where even small increases in sea levels, especially if combined with storm and tidal events, can easily result in substantial destruction and huge displacement of people. For our food supply, consider the impacts of droughts, floods, and other conditions that may be worsened by climate changes. Within the oceans, changes in acidity are already leading to losses of coral reefs and declines in critical species including, for example, commercially grown and natural oysters and tiny shelled plankton that are essential to the food chain of countless other creatures. The list goes on and on and on and the damages, if we do not act soon, will be extraordinary, widespread, and long lasting.

What Difference Does a Few Degrees of Temperature Mean?
Think about this, just one degree change in temperature means the difference between melting or freezing, ice or liquid water, snow or rain. Just a couple of degrees in our own body temperature means the difference between perfect health and a high, possibly deadly fever. For countless other species one or two degree differences in temperature means the difference between life or death.

How Much Temperature Change Are We Talking About
At present rates of pollution from CO2 and other gasses, along with land use changes and other causes of climate change, the smallest likely temperature increase worldwide is expected to be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). If we continue present emissions the temperature change could be substantially higher than that.

What is Ocean Acidification And How Does it happen
Ocean acidification is happening because at least 25% of the CO2 that gets put into the air by human activity eventually dissolves in water. It has been repeatedly and reliably demonstrated that adding CO2 to water makes the water more acidic. This has been studied and proven by scientists since at least the 1950s and earlier.

Are the Oceans actually becoming more acidic?
There can be no doubt that we’re putting extraordinary amounts of CO2 into the air and, as you would expect, that is clearly making the waters of oceans and lakes more acidic. For example, U.S. scientists studying the acidity of the ocean waters off the Pacific Northwest coast have found marked increases in the acidity of waters in recent years.

What are the effects of more acidic ocean water?
When the oceans become more acidic, shells and coral reefs begin to dissolve and the creatures that depend on them begin die. When water is more acidic, it is harder for organisms to get the minerals, like calcium, they use to make their shells. When that happens, they die and when smaller organisms die the bigger creatures, like fish, whales and others that depend on eating them also perish. Add to that the stress created by higher water temperatures, and the impacts are even worse.

The graph below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased, so too has the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water. At the same time, the pH levels in the water have changed showing that the water is in fact becoming more acidic (the way the pH acidity scale is designed, lower numbers on the scale actually mean more acidity in the water).

What About the Skeptics or Other Explanations?

Isn’t This All Just A Giant Conspiracy or “Hoax”?
Some people argue that somehow nearly all of the leading scientists in the world have secretly conspired together to fabricate false theories, create fake evidence, ignore other evidence and perpetrate a great hoax on the rest of humanity. If you think about that for even a moment it really makes no sense.

Scientists are by their nature and their training skeptics about nearly everything. They test hypotheses against data, they test their instruments against reality, they test their theories against other explanations and they constantly consider other possible explanations. They also challenge and review the findings of other scientists and subject their designs, data and findings to rigorous public analysis. That is the essence of the scientific method and process and it has served our civilization very well for centuries now.

In the face of that, to argue that now, when it comes to climate change, thousands and thousands of top scientists have for some mysterious reason joined together in secrecy to abandon their core principles in order to produce fake data, false theories and create a huge lie for the entire world to believe really doesn’t make any sense at all. What is more, those who believe this is a conspiracy must also believe that the scientists have somehow managed to trick even our top military leaders because the Pentagon is in fact actively studying how climate change will impact everything from where our bases our located to how displacements of tens, possibly hundreds of millions of people will impact our national security.

When you actually read the scientific literature, it is clearly evident that in fact scientists, far from engaging in a unified hoax, are actually actively studying, analyzing and debating all sorts of alternative theories and data. The result, however, is simply that the observed data and the most accurate theoretical explanations demonstrate strongly and repeatedly that climate change and ocean acidification are real, significant and human caused. That is not a hoax, it is science at work.

But What About the Other Explanations for What Is Happening?
Before considering alternative explanations, it’s important to first get the basic facts right. There really is no legitimate disagreement that adding CO2 to air retains more heat from sunlight and adding C02 to water changes its acidity. That’s been proven in thousands of experiments. And there really can’t be a reasonable argument that humans are not putting enormous amounts of C02 and other gasses into the air. What is more, the best scientific measurements available have consistently shown that, on average overall temperatures have steadily been rising and ocean acidity is in fact increasing.

So, what about the arguments that either the temperature is not really increasing, or, if it is, it’s not caused by humans, or even if it is caused by humans the increases won’t be that large or even if the changes are large we can manage them just fine. Let’s take each of these in turn briefly here. If you are interested in detailed discussion of these matters, please check out the references listed below for consideration. You can start by looking at the graph below to see how other possible causes have changed over time in comparison to human actions and temperature changes.

  1. The temperature is not really increasing. In fact, temperature is increasing overall and so is ocean acidity. Of course there have always been some years that were warmer or colder than others, and in some areas there will be local differences from year to year or season to season. That is natural variation. But on average, the overall global temperature and ocean acidity continues to rise as measured by multiple methods and instruments across the globe.
  2. Isn’t this due to changes in the activity of the Sun. In fact, best measurements suggest the sun has shown a slight cooling trend for the past several decades. If people “cherry pick” data, it can be made to appear that solar variation causes recent temperature changes, but looking at long patters of data rules out solar explanations for current temperature changes.
  3. So maybe the climate is changing, but it’s not because of human activity. What about other sources of “so called” greenhouse gases, like volcanoes etc.? Again, common sense and what you can see with your own eyes should convince anyone that we, humans, are putting huge amounts of CO2 into the air and oceans. What is more, scientists can measure the CO2 in the air and identify the sources of CO2 as coming from human activities of natural events. These studies show that the vast majority of added CO2 in the atmosphere for the past century has come from human activity not natural events like volcanoes.
  4. Even if there is some change, and even if we contribute to it in some small way, who’s to say that the impacts will really be all that big. Haven’t people exaggerated the temperature changes and the impacts to create needless panic? Remember first that in nature even very small changes can have very big consequences. A single degree in temperature change turns ice into water or vice versa. But the most likely changes in temperature will be higher than a single degree, potentially quite a bit higher and that will have big impacts.
  5. Even if the climate is changing and even if that does have some effects, it’s nothing we can’t manage with ingenuity. Once again, common sense tells you that with hundreds of millions of people worldwide living at of very near sea level, even seemingly small increases in sea level can submerge cities, houses, roads, railroads, airports, sewage treatment plants, electrical plants, and all sorts of other infrastructure. So too, droughts, floods, changes in insect distribution etc. can devastate agricultural areas. None of this will be inexpensive and all of it will be even harder if we don’t also address the financial status and debt of our nation now.
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Our goal is to mobilize Americans of all ages to ask these 3 simple questions and expect real answers from every single candidate seeking their vote. Our plan is to show candidates and politicians the breadth and depth of support for the 3 American Questions.

TAKE THE PLEDGE
#NoAnswerNoVote

In the coming election and going forward, I will only support, contribute to, or vote for candidates and political parties who take seriously and offer real, honest and practical answers to the 3 American Questions. Together, we must solve climate change, the Federal Debt, and restore public confidence in our government. The time is now for all of us to take action - it is our future, our legacy, and our responsibility.