Posted by: Hendra Siry | 26 February, 2010

Don’t Overlook Oceans in Climate Battle: UN

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti

Scientists are increasingly interested in the role of oceans in preserving a healthy climate. (AFP Photo)

Scientists are increasingly interested in the role of oceans in preserving a healthy climate. (AFP Photo)

More attention must be paid to the role of oceans in preserving the earth’s climate, UN Environment Programme head Achim Steiner said in Bali on Thursday.

Steiner joined to Indonesian maritime minister Fadel Muhammad to launch a report on the role of oceans in carbon absorption at the ongoing UNEP conference in Nusa Dua. Scientists believe carbon emitted by human activities is altering the world’s climate, melting glaciers and causing a dangerous rise in seal levels.

The report, titled “Blue Carbon,” calls ocean plants such as mangroves, seagrass and marsh grasses “among the most intense” absorbers of carbon on the planet. But it finds these seaside habitats are disappearing at a rapid pace of two to seven percent per year.

But the interaction of oceans and climate must be further studied, Steiner said.

“If the world is to decisively deal with climate change, every source of emissions and every option for reducing these should be scientifically evaluated and brought to the international community’s attention,” he said.

Minister Fadel said  the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Research Agency or BRKP had begun to look into the question.

“We don’t have sufficient research to be sure that our oceans are actually absorb carbon instead of releasing it. That is why we have been conducting pilot projects in Indonesia’s ocean areas,” said Fadel, adding that the research was in its early stages.

“The president is also very interested but he has asked me to make sure that we explain very clearly to the public about the importance of oceans and seas,” he said.


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