Ocean acidification action page
What can you do about OA?
More than you think! While it’s true that the only long-term solution to OA is a global reduction in CO2 emissions, there are things we can do to mitigate OA locally. Our region is experiencing some of the most severe acidification in the world, due in part to the combined impact of the millions who live and work in the Puget Sound basin. The bright side of being part of the problem? We can be part of the solution! Below are some actions that each of us can take to slow the pace of acidification locally while new policies to control global CO2 emissions are developed.
Poop out of Puget Sound
Excess nutrients from human and animal waste fertilize processes that make OA in Puget Sound worse than it has to be. Keep these nutrients (OK…’poop’) out of the water by testing and maintaining your septic system, scooping pet waste, and (if you’re a boater) using Washington Sea Grant’s free Clean Vessel Pumpout Kit. Stormwater is another way nutrients and other types of pollution enter Puget Sound. Seattle and King County websites offer great tips (and some amusing videos) about how to protect our marine waters from runoff.
Share your ride
Buses, bikes and feet can only take you so far; everybody needs a car sometimes. But nowadays, that doesn’t mean you have to own one. Carshare programs like Car2Go, ZipCar and Scoot are available in an increasing number of cities and college campuses. Even good old-fashioned carpooling is a surprisingly effective way to minimize your ‘car-print’; just sharing your ride with two other passengers generates less CO2 per person than a solo Prius driver!
Reduce the fuel in your food
What you put on your plate can have a big impact on how much CO2 you’re adding to the atmosphere and ocean. Animal protein requires roughly 10 times as much fossil energy to produce than grain, which means you can take a big bite out of your carbon footprint by simply by eating less meat. Whole (ie. unprocessed) foods also require less energy to produce and package than processed food…and they’re also better for you (win-win!). Eating local, organically-raised foods in season is another way to keep nutrients and carbon in the soil, where they’re supposed to be.
Collective Action over Personal Change
We are running out of time to do something about OA; if we don’t get global CO2 levels under control soon, it may take thousands of years for our oceans to recover. The individual actions listed above are all important, but they won’t fix the problem by themselves. Seek ways to amplify your impact, by engaging your community in collective actions to reduce CO2. Invest in Community Solar, volunteer with groups that are engaged on marine or climate protection (kids can do it too!), host a Septic Social, plant a Shellfish Garden!
Help Puget Sound help itself
The good news is, almost anything that’s good for Puget Sound—like restoring habitat, replacing bulkheads with ‘soft’ shorelines, and controlling invasive species—can help it withstand OA. Just as rest, a warm bed and plenty of liquids are what our bodies need when we’re fighting a bug, the more we do to minimize other forms of stress on the marine environment, the more resilient it will be to OA.
You can make changes in your own life and your community, but what drives the biggest change is a groundswell of support to influence policy and industry leaders. If this issue is important to you, make sure your elected officials know it! As the last panel in this cartoon says, writing to politicians is easy and surprisingly effective!