A panel of leading voices in marine science and policy will convene at Monmouth University on April 13 for a conversation on where the nation is succeeding and falling short in its efforts to catalyze innovation and action to address climate change’s impacts to our oceans, and how oceans can help to mitigate those impacts.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the 16th Annual Future of the Ocean Symposium, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Great Hall Auditorium. The event, hosted by the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI), is free to attend and no registration is required.
Speakers will include Richard Spinrad, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator; Margaret Leinen, Scripps Institution of Oceanography director; Charlotte Hudson, Lenfest Ocean Program director; Richard Murray, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution deputy director and vice president for science and engineering; and Tashiana Osborne, climate change advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development via an American Association for the Advancement of Science Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. The panel will be moderated by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and PBS host Jack Ford.
The world’s oceans are under enormous stress from climate change, having absorbed an estimated 90 percent of all of the excess heat from global warming and nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities. As a result, scientists have observed significant changes taking place in marine environments including warming waters, ocean acidification, shifts in marine life habitats, retreating sea ice extents and an accompanying rise in sea levels. The symposium comes days after the Biden Administration released a first-ever, whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan.
“While the ocean has borne an outsized share of the brunt of climate change, we are only beginning to recognize its potential as part of the solution,” UCI Director Tony MacDonald said. “For example, the greening of ports and shipping, a continued shift to renewable energy sources, and the restoration of submerged vegetation in our estuaries can all play a part in lowering CO2 levels. These actions also hold the promise for propelling new blue economy industries that create jobs, improve coastal resilience, and advance scientific knowledge of our ocean.”
Immediately following the symposium at 6 p.m., the UCI will host its Champion of the Ocean Awards reception, also in the Great Hall. This year’s honorees as National Champion of the Ocean will be Spinrad and Leinen, and State Coastal and Ocean Leadership awards will be presented to New Jersey State Sen. Bob Smith and American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham. Tickets are required to attend the reception, with proceeds supporting the UCI.
The awards were established in 2005 to honor individuals who have undertaken actions and demonstrated sustained leadership that ensures coasts and oceans are clean, safe, sustainably managed, and preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Previous honorees include ocean explorer Robert Ballard, marine biologist and explorer Sylvia Earle, ocean scientist and advocate Jean-Michael Cousteau, and former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.