Scientists split on climate change


Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
May 12, 2009

Freddy Numberi, Indonesia's minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, is calling for climate change and adaptation programs to be the focus of the World Oceans Conference in Manado, Indonesia, this week with a signing of the Manado Ocean Declaration.

To attract funding for adaptation programs, said Numberi, there is a need for scientific support of the theory that the oceans affect climate change by acting as absorbers of carbon dioxide.

However, "We have no conclusive and final research on the role of oceans on climate change," said Ian Ekra, an oceanography expert with the Agency for Assessment and Applied Technology. "In general, oceans are naturally carbon dioxide emitters. We need to do further research."

British scientist Christopher Tompkins agreed with Ekra but encouraged the United Nations to discuss the issues of adaptation programs.

"We should focus on adaptation rather than pushing oceans as carbon sinks," he said.

Bill Eichbum, VP of marine and arctic policy for the World Wildlife Fund-U.S., said there is no doubt that climate change had negatively affected oceans and cited the Arctic's melting glaciers, higher sea temperatures and higher sea levels as evidence.

The scientific support conference organizers are looking for would ensure the Manado Ocean Declaration is submitted to the UN climate change debate held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. Indonesia especially would like to see the UN take up the issue as it stands to receive extensive funding to implement adaptation programs.

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