What's Not Making News

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | May 28, 2008 10:50 am

Ocean acidification illustrated by David Fierstein (c) 2007 MBARI

Ocean acidification is intimately connected to our changing climate and as important as global warming. We’re just not hearing about it in the news enough because the media has all but ignored the problem. So we must make the case that more scientists ought to be to be exploring the threat, educating the public as to why it matters, and implementing effective policy to mitigate the impact of excess CO2 in our oceans (and everywhere else).

My full post reviewing ocean acidification is now up over at Correlations.


Comments (10)

  1. Sarah

    “the media has all but ignored the problem”

    As a member of the media, I must beg to differ! The issue is all over the place — as a google news search for “acidification” reveals. My question is: Are we getting it right? Is there an angle or element of the story you think the media is missing or misrepresenting?

  2. Sarah,

    Yes acidification is finally getting more coverage than in past years, but the level of attention is not in the same league as global warming. It should be. Environmental outreach and research funding has been concentrated on climate with oceans as an afterthought.

  3. Do you really think we can motivate people with a 6 syllable word like a-ci-di-fi-ca-tion?

    I think we need a simpler name for the problem.

  4. J.

    Do you really think we can motivate people with a 6 syllable word like a-ci-di-fi-ca-tion? I think we need a simpler name for the problem.

    …What?! That’s pretty damned depressing. Is “Ocean death” dumbed down enough? “Ocean Holocaust” dumbed down and provocative enough? Bah.

    “Ocean pH pollution” ?
    “The Ocean souring”?
    “Acid squeezy death”?
    “The acid poisoning of our oceans”?
    “Man-induced Seafood Holocaust”?
    “You’re not fucking up just the land part of this planet, dear reader. Neener neener neener”?

    I apologize for being too bitter.

  5. wazza

    Plankton Melting?

    A lot of the articles I’ve seen recently have referenced it, at least, and I’ve seen some in local papers (in NZ…) specifically about this problem. I think it’s becoming more widely known, but there’s nothing much we can do about it but what’s already been done to combat global warming and algal blooms – make efforts to cut down on CO2 release and nitrogen offrun.

  6. Ian

    “I think we need a simpler name for the problem”

    We need something catchy, like “The Chronic Carbonic”!

  7. BAllanJ

    I was talking to someone once who had quite an input in making sure acid rain wasn’t called acidified precipitation. Same goes here….I’d vote for “acid seas” myself

  8. Emily

    BAllenJ – the difference is that acid rain IS acidic. Ocean acidification has not (yet) resulted in the oceans actually becoming acid, just dropping in pH (but still in the basic end of the scale).

    Maybe we could call it Super-coral-fragile-istic-ocean-acidosis…

  9. J.

    “acid poisoning (of the oceans/seas/etc)” is growing on me. Either that or it’s the fugu liver I fictionally had for lunch.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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