Ocean Acidification

Often described as climate change's ugly twin, ocean acidification is one of the most serious problems our marine communities are facing. As the amount of fossil fuels we use continues to increase, the ocean is forced to take up more CO2, which lowers the pH. This global change in ocean chemistry has shown negative effectives such as inhibiting the growth of shellfish and causing reproductive problems in fish. Our initiative aims to help mitigate the severe problem of ocean acidification. 

Mark OA copy.jpgOur leadership has been following the science related to ocean acidification (OA) since the late 1990s, when we began to actively meet with scientists, and attend meetings related to ocean chemistry. Simply stated, there is no debate about the science behind, or the threat posed by ocean acidification. The ocean is absorbing nearly a third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere from human sources (carbon emission pollution from our cars, power plants, and factories). The CO2 dissolves in saltwater, decreasing the ph and making it more acidic. Scientists know this change in ocean chemistry is making it difficult for certain marine organisms to thrive and that list is growing with each new study.

Our OA philanthropic work dates back to 2004. Since then, we have been one of the leading voices bringing attention to this threat to the ocean, as well as to the potential local and global solutions available to us in the global philanthropic community.

  • In 2010 we led a funders collaborative to underwrite comprehensive polling on how to communicate about the threat of OA. A series of meetings followed to share that work to help the field understand how to motivate broader action on OA.
  • During the U.S. Department of State’s “Our Ocean” conference in 2014, we announced the creation of an affinity group GOA-ON.jpgcalled Friends of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network to mobilize high-level national and international donor commitments that will contribute to the implementation of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). The affinity group will support the Network directly and indirectly with grants and services. Friends of GOA-ON will provide financial resources to help deploy scientific ocean observing systems throughout the world, especially in regions of high vulnerability to OA. Additionally, it will provide financial and in-kind support to train scientists from around the world, especially those in countries and areas that lack observation coverage.
  • In 2014 we won a grant from the Education Foundation of America, which allowed us to form our Ocean Acidification and Climate Action Program. This is a unique strategic multi-sector partnership to work with legislators in eight states where there is momentum and opportunity to advance important policies at the state level that will also further a national dialogue. With our partner institutions, we will be educating these and other leaders, providing them the tools they need to replicate Washington’s process, legislation, implementation, and budgetary successes on OA. We will analyze the appropriate laws in each state, create model legislation and legislative strategies specific to each state, and then work with each of the identified state leaders to educate their colleagues on the important connections between addressing OA and local economic drivers. As appropriate, local and regional NGO, university, and industry partners will be engaged.

There is still a lot we do not know about ocean acidification and how it will affect some parts of the marine community, but we do know that we need to eliminate our fossil fuel emissions in the long run. By donating to the Ocean Acidification Initiative you will help further the research on OA and its mitigation.  Learn more about ocean acidification on our resources page