I just learned of four bills in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science, Space, and Technology Committee that each in some way address the issues of ocean acidification. Of course I immediately wrote to my representative, Katherine Clark to encourage her to co-sponsor these bills and then vote for them when they reach the full House floor. Below is what I sent to her:
“I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor House bills recently approved by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee: H.R. 1237 (“COAST Research Act of 2019), H.R. 1716 (“Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019), H.R. 1921, (“Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2019”), and H.R. 988 (“NEAR Act of 2019”).
These bills all address the critical issue of ocean acidification. As I’m sure you are aware, ocean acidification is the “other carbon problem,” the first being global warming. The atmosphere and ocean interact with each other over approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface. This interaction leads to the absorption of millions of tons of carbon dioxide by the ocean every year. This is lowering the pH of the ocean and, due to a series of chemical reactions, reduces the availability of carbonate in the ocean. Carbonate is a critical ingredient for most shells and skeletons of marine life, including corals, plankton, shellfish, and crustaceans. Lack of carbonate is making it difficult for many larval organisms to develop and many adult organisms to grow. Extra energy has to be devoted to maintaining their structural components. This energy is diverted from energy that would otherwise be used for reproduction. This is leading to smaller population sizes of many planktonic organisms that start the food chains in the ocean. Reduced plankton populations translates into reduced populations of almost all other organisms in the ocean, including commercial fish and shellfish species and marine mammals. As a New Englander, I’m sure your recognize the importance of commercial shellfish and fish industries and whale watching tourism industries to our Massachusetts economy.
Please support the passing of these important bills by cosponsoring them and then voting for them when they make it to the full House floor for a vote.”
I encourage readers to contact their representatives as well. It’s important that our elected leaders know that we care about these issues. One state legislator once told me that a handful of constituents speaking up for something can sometimes be enough to motivate an elected officials to support the cause, because she or he assumes that for each person that cares enough to speak up there are probably many others who feel the same. If you want use my letter, go for it. Get your voice (or mine) out there.