After the Storm
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

The storm passed and so did the election, strangely intertwining both in a way that made hard to distinguish one from the other.  In a world steamrolling to global weirding certain people call a late October hurricane in Manhattan "the new normal".  For some absurd reason such a catchphrase has also become political, either tabu, denied, or embraced and yelled with sad predictability.  
I do not have the answers, cannot recite the facts, numbers, figures, correlations or graphics and wont pretend I do.  If the whole issue is tabu to you chances are you stumbled upon this post and are shaking your head in disgust.  If you believe, worry and despair you probably find the futile comfort and warmth of this small reflection of your credo.  I simply and desperately wish we could all quietly agree the storm showed once again how mighty strong nature is, how easily it turns a cargo boat into a sinking toy and it blows the million dollar homes like dandelion seeds in July.  Maybe then being humble, respectful, watchful and preventive will also become the new normal.
Some news to keep afloat in the current surge of information; we do not want the blog to flood too.  November feels the longest month of the year:

≈≈≈≈"Fish on Fridays: Hurricane Sandy, Climate Change, and the Future of Fish", a Center for American Progress article by Michael Conathan.
"As our last wild capture industry, fishing businesses are arguably more reliant on natural forces than any other profession. It’s a centuries-old vocation, inherently dependent on knowledge passed down from one generation to the next, so when species distribution patterns evolve, even subtle change becomes readily apparent."

≈≈≈≈A BBC World Service audio piece on the Anthropocene, "the age we made".  "Millions of years from now, scientists will be able to read the rock forming now and see that something profound and unprecedentedly rapid…" LISTEN to it HERE

≈≈≈≈ recently interviewed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Research Associate Sarah Cooley about the impacts of Ocean Acidification on the shellfish industry and the future of the New England waters.
Read it HERE

≈≈≈≈For once, a bi-partisan move trying to save the Washington State's shellfish took place last month:  Gov. Chris Gregoire formed a 28-member panel to work on a 43-item list of projects and 20 top priority measures on Ocean Acidification the state could tackle prior to the upcoming state legislature session in January.
"Potential top priorities include:
1 Reducing air emissions that can be linked to local ocean water acidity.
2 Reducing amounts of nutrients flowing into local sea water. These measures could involve overhauling sewage treatment plants and other sewage system to meet standards that still need to be set..
3 Exploring using salt-water vegetation to combat the impact of ocean acidification.
4 Improving and expanding monitoring of ocean acidification."


≈≈≈≈It has been a while since we put a Youtube video on Ocean Acidification.  This one is for children and was created by ATMO's Atmospheric Sciences Outreach group.

≈≈≈≈Seminar day on Ocean Acidification in Gothenburg, Sweden for the 30th of November.  It is organized by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and you can register by sending an email to Kerstin Cote HERE or download a PDF with details HERE

≈≈≈≈A six week laboratory experiment by the University of Otago on algal communities and their response to Ocean Acidification.
"This project has shown that greater CO2 concentrations could positively influence photosynthesis in some species of fleshy macroalgae by reducing carbon limitation, however, calcifying algae are vulnerable to the oceanic chemistry changes caused by ocean acidification. These varying responses among species and the variability of communities under different levels of water motion is likely to lead to communities responding to ocean acidification at a local scale."
Read more from the SOURCE

≈≈≈≈A controversial but nevertheless interesting text by Bernard David for the Huffingtonpost: Climate Change and its Influence On Investing: A New Perspective

≈≈≈≈PhD project opportunity to study carbon dioxide uptake and carbonate chemistry in UK shelf waters.  The deadline to apply is the 17th of May 2013 and you can read more about it on the University of East Anglia's website.
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Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

»Could the protection of marine areas be counterproductive? That is what Professor Ray Hilborn, from the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, believes. Professor Hilborn stated in late February during an interview for an Australian radio station.  You can read the transcript HERE and listen to the interview HERE.
While some of his arguments are somewhat interesting I could not agree less with them.  Protecting land, lakes, rivers and seas is always a good idea and has proven to be visibly effective: beneficial. To claim that this will increase fish and seafood demand from parts of the world (China, Thailand or Brazil) where fishing and farming is not properly done just means some measures need to be taken about food imports.  The rest is demagogic.  The US, Australia or the EU could easily ban such imports, take measures, work with producing countries on production and quality control, impose sanctions.  To affirm that marine reserves do nothing other than appease people's consciences and deviate us from global problems like Ocean Acidification is first of all not true.  Since when is a good policy the one responsible for bad practices in other areas?  We could perfectly well be protecting marine areas while we finally began taking worldwide factual measures.  I simply cannot see how setting up good examples and leaving some parts of the world in peace from the stress we cause upon them is in any way detrimental.  Let's move the discussion to terra firma: would Professor Hilborn suggest to act in the same fashion in his country's National Parks? Should hunting and controlled farming be allowed in Yosemite and Yellowstone?  I think the problem for the nth time is that we persist in looking at the seas of the world with different eyes from the way we see land, that is why we continue using them as "magical" dumps and we are depleting them in the style hungry teenagers go through their parent's fridges some Saturday nights.

»The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service this week "for failing to develop a recovery plan for two species of coral, elkhorn and staghorn, that live off the coast of Florida and the Caribbean.  Although these corals have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 2006, the Fisheries Service still has not yet developed a crucial, and legally required, recovery plan to avoid extinction and secure their future survival."
Both elkhorn and staghorn corals were in fact the first species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act back in 2006 due to the threat of global warming and Ocean Acidification.  In a few decades they have declined by more than 95%. Photo: Elkhorn and Staghorn corals

»Mobile marine reserves as means for protection in the future.  This is the proposal conservationists brought forth at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, Canada.  How would this work out?  The mobile marine reserves would use GPS tracking devices to follow endangered marine animals such as sharks, leatherback turtles or albatross and the areas with the highest populations would be temporarily closed down to trawlers and industrial fishermen.  As Professor Larry Crowder of Stanford University expressed at that meeting, "Less than 1% of the ocean is protected at this point, and these marine parks tend to be built around things that sit still like coral reefs and seamounts. But tracking studies show that many, many organisms - fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds and sharks - respond to oceanographic features that don't have a fixed point. These features are fronts and eddies that may move seasonally, from summer to winter, and from year to year based on oceanographic climate changes like El Nino or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation."
The idea is no doubt interesting; whether it is realistic or not depends more on national and international regulation, since the technology is already available.

»The Atlantic Ocean Alliance has launched a campaign to protect Antarctica's ocean through the world's largest network of marine reserves.  The Antarctic Ocean contains waters from the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and for this reason some scientists do not consider it a separate ocean.  Although this part of the world is largely untouched and unexplored it faces several environmental problems derived from climate change, overfishing, ultraviolet radiation and Ocean Acidification.  The area the Atlantic Ocean Alliance wants to conserve is the Ross Sea.  The protection network would cover roughly 3.6 million square kilometers between Antarctica and New Zealand.  It is seen "as a first step towards establishing a comprehensive network of marine reserves and MPAs around Antarctica.” The proposal was presented to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a body made up of representatives from 24 nations and the European Union that is precisely focusing on protecting marine areas in the Antarctic this year.
To read more you can download their PROPOSAL HERE and sign their PETITION HERE
This is their video:

»PROTECTION: Massive Attack/Everything But The Girl

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Interview with Sven
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

    On this rainy morning I had the chance to meet with Sven for a cup of tea and a half hour chat in his kitchen.  We had not done an official interview for the blog since May of last year, so an update on A Sea Change and the work Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby do with Ocean Acidification was more than due.

D:    Sven, why don't you tell me what you have been up to over the past six months.

Sven:    In November of last year we were invited to participate in London at a gathering of NGOs, foundations and scientists who were looking at ways of building further collaboration between the funding community, the research community and the policy community in Europe and specially in Great Britain.  It was right at the time when their government had approved further funding for research on Ocean Acidification and there was the belief that there could be an increase in the number of monitoring stations and new ways to analyze the data coming in.  So that was a very hopeful kind of conference, very exciting.
From there we returned to the States.  Barbara had actually been exploring a next film project, which was going to be about the US military and sustainable energy systems.  We were working on that in the background, but in the meantime we had invitations in February and March to participate in a couple of three-day events, first at Oregon State University and then at the University of Washington
The first one was actually sponsored by their Philosophy Department and was around the topic of science, media and messaging.  We did a three hour seminar with people in the Communications Department and with graduate students in science.  We started the first day with a seminar in which we first talked about how you make a film of the kind that we made with A Sea Change.  Then we asked the group to break up into four groups and to pick an environmental topic that they would like to make a documentary about.  They were to create a narrative tale that would carry the message and organize it in such a way that they could make a pitch to a foundation to raise money for making of the film.  Barbara and I represented a foundation and were there to listen and then critique their presentations. In other words, we went through the motions that would not be unusual for the making and funding of an environmental film.

D:    Do you think scientists see a need to learn to communicate better, to transmit their findings and inform the public?

Sven:    There is no question that scientists feel that a huge challenge within (and I think that is why the philosophy department was pushing this) the science community is addressing the question of whether it is the responsibility of the scientists to speak out, to communicate, to educate around their findings.  There was a panel group that talked about this subject at a gathering.  Some felt very strongly that it was almost immoral not to speak out, others thought that the definition of a scientist was someone who continues to do the science, that it was for others to pick up what we are learning from science and bring it into the public realm.  The minute a scientist gets involved, objectivity, credibility, the scientist's value to the field of science becomes suspect, questionable.  There was one rather poignant moment when one of the scientists expressed the anger and frustration keeping such a position caused him, this impossibility to go out to a mountain top and scream about one's findings.
    When we went to the University of Washington most participants were already graduate students in the field of fisheries or aquatic studies or was an ocean scientist in general.  In that arena I would say that there was a stronger sense that there is a need to speak out.  But it is always dangerous, because the criticism you can receive for your actions becomes directed not just at you, but to the validity of the work you are doing, and therefore your scientific efforts.

D:    I think labs and science departments at universities should have a spokesperson, someone not directly involved in the research who works on its interpretation and on bringing it to the media and the public.

Sven:    I completely agree with you, I know Barbara would as well and our dream was to talk with graduate students who still have not decided what their path is going to be and see if there are some of them who will find that role very satisfying, young men and women that would already be grounded in the science, but intrigued into how do you parlay it into something else.  My impression in listening to people from various labs in the country is that they would all like to have a person like that.  Do they prioritize in such a way that it is at the top of their funding requests?  I don't think so.  If they readily had the money, would they do it? I think they obviously would.  Most of the labs that I am aware of today are struggling for resources: funding has decreased significantly in the last decade.  But this discussion we are talking about here is taking place and at the University of Washington I think there was a clear understanding that this communication is a skill set of its own.

D:    Ok, what came after that?
Sven:    Well, in March we were going to go back to working on this new film and at that point several things happened in our lives that made us slow down a bit:  I broke my arm in a sports injury and we had our dearest dearest friend and companion, our nearly 16 year old lab become very ill, so we returned to the East Coast and nursed him for the last two months of his life.  We are now taking a little time off to try to understand what do we do next.  
In the meantime I continue to work with foundations, to see if we can keep the pipeline open for funding in the Ocean Acidification sector.  I am also continuing to work with the government through a group that I am part of called Ocean Acidification Task Force.  It is a subgroup of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory panel to the Intergovernmental Working Panel on Ocean Acidification.  A mouthful, yes, but essentially a group that makes recommendations to the government about where we need to be looking as we invest public resources over the next five to ten years in this sector.  Right now it is a little bit on hold; we have finished our first stated mission which was to create a fully dedicated report that was submitted and has been accepted and it's now undecided whether we are going to be reactivated in the next six to twelve months.  It has been intriguing to meet the people working in the policy sector in Washington DC.  I am highly impressed with their dedication, with their know-how.  They are dealing with a political situation where it is all about cutbacks, which makes this kind of work much more challenging.

D:     And A Sea Change, what lies ahead for the film?

Sven:    I would love it if we could figure out a way in which to move the film into countries where it still hasn't had much exposure, particularly countries with large coastal areas.  I think in South America, since we have a Spanish version of the film, it could be distributed further in Chile, Peru and Argentina.  We have contacts in all three of those countries that we need to work with in order to make that happen.  We have had some screenings in China and would love to have more; we also would like to get the film hooked up with some universities there to be used however they see fit, and if there was some way to be on television there that would be even more effective.  As always, our objective is to bring Ocean Acidification into the public discourse.

From my own personal point of view, though, the more I could do to mentor others doing this kind of work, to let them experience some success and enjoy the confidence that that breeds, that would be the greatest satisfaction I could see.  I do not feel any less energy, but I have less interest in the kind of travel schedule that this work involves.  I wish I could say it was based on principles that I would like to slow down a bit, but it's really more that I am just choosing to play a different role and return more to being the classroom teacher.  I am really eager to build the number of people that we can mentor.

D:    What have scientists told you about the film since it came out?

Sven:    The thing that they single out again and again is that here is a set of scientific findings that have been built into a narrative tale.  Because it is a story of legacy and a grandfather-grandson relationship that can be broadly identified with, it engages people with that material in a way that no scientific paper, report or scientist speaking on television could ever do.  They find that amusing and they express a tremendous amount of gratitude that Barbara was able to envision a way in which to do that and that we had the drive to move forward and breathe some life into it. 

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Bicycle Interview
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Barbara and Sven returned from the West Coast a few days back and this past Thursday Sven and I had a chance to go on a morning ride, discuss how Liquigas was doing in the Giro de Italia and talk about the 2010 NOAA Environmental Hero Award ceremony in La Jolla, CA.
"Thanks" to some stomach problems this spring (or so he claims) Sven is looking lean and mean and was able to talk even when the road got steep.

"It was exciting to be out there," he said.  "Obviously, it is a delight when you work hard and try to pull the best team together to make a film to in the end get this kind of recognition.  We are lucky to have Barbara as a director.  She is a good storyteller so the rest of us did what we were told and tried to do it well."

From left to right, Tony Haymet, Dick Feely, Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby

"The evening started with a slideshow with clips from the film and Youtube pieces related to the history of the film, television shows where it had appeared and those sort of things. There was a major buffet and soon after the ceremony.
Dick Feely came down from the Seattle office of NOAA to present the award on behalf of Doctor Jane Lubchenko, the Administrative Director of NOAA. She is a woman with deep knowledge of ocean acidification as a result of her work at Oregon State University," said Sven.  
"After the award ceremony we had a screening of the full 83 minute version of the documentary for the 250 attendees and finally a q&a with Barbara and myself, Andrew Dickson, Tony Haymet and Victoria Fabry."

I did not recognize a couple of the names, so Sven, water bottle in his hand, explained: "Tony Haymet is the president of Scripps. Andrew Dickson is known as the man who came up with a standardized way of calibrating instruments to measure pH levels around the world seas, whether it is Japan, Norway, Australia or the United States. And Victoria Fabry, or Vicky Fabry as we know her, is the scientist who was originally interviewed by Elizabeth Kolbert in her seminal article for the November 2006 issue of the New Yorker titled "The Darkening Sea".  It is always a treat to catch up with Vicky."

"The best part of getting an award like this is you can leverage it into more publicity and greater milage for the film," he concluded.

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Interview on Martha Stewart
Saturday, June 10, 2017
A big thanks to Martha Stewart for providing her support in helping us to get the word out on ocean acidification.

Here's a lovely photo of Martha with Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby, on the show:

And below you can see the interview:

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