A new report released on Tuesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that the federal government is not utilizing enough of its budget on programs directly targeted at reducing or mitigating the effects of ocean acidification caused by pollution. As ThinkProgress reports, federal agencies are required by law under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM) to develop agency plans to monitor, research and take action to address ocean acidification.
While federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been effectively implementing programs to study ocean acidification, according to the report there is a notable lack of direct measures in order to prevent future destructive ecological and economic impacts of ocean acidification.
While an inter-agency group involving 11 federal agencies was created to address the requirements of FOARAM, the GAO report indicates that though this group has developed a plan for addressing ocean acidification, it has yet to take substantive action. According to the GAO report, “The research and monitoring plan lays out a broad scope of work, but an entity has not been designated to coordinate the plan’s implementation, or to identify and take whatever additional steps may be needed to help the nation address ocean acidification in the future.”
More than a quarter of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean, and as a result ocean acidity has risen by more than 26 percent in the past two centuries. In September, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the pH level of surface water had recently dropped from 8.18 to 8.07. The U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity warns that without mitigating the effects of ocean acidity during the next century, the planet’s oceans could dip below pH 7.0.