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Editor's Note: The other carbon problem

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
September 01, 2009

Anyone who thinks warding off global warming means running out and buying a Toyota Prius needs to think again. Burning fossil fuels for industrial manufacturing, including food and affiliated packaging companies, increases carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, according to myriad scientific models. Changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and melting polar ice caps are obvious signs of global warming. A more subtle result of increased CO 2 emissions that is gaining attention lately is that of ocean acidification. Associate Editor James Wright gives readers insight into the scientific opinions behind the topic and what it could mean for not just shellfish supplies, but the entire marine ecosystem, in this issue's Top Story, Looking down the line (p. 18).

The discussions about ocean acidification are gaining strength, much like the groundswell about sustainability did several years ago. A handful of documentaries on the topic have already been produced, including "A Sea Change" and "Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification." While the scientists and seafood suppliers Wright interviewed for the Top Story have varying opinions on the rate and scope of change that acidification will bring, no one is denying it will happen.

The question now is what can you do about carbon emissions? First, research your company's CO 2 emissions or hire a consultant to do it for you. While the majority of carbon emissions in the United States results from utilities, food and beverage companies - including seafood processors - bear some responsibility because they use utilities to run their operations. The Obama administration plans to introduce a cap-and-trade emissions program that would apply a cost to more than 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Emissions trading will create a cost for greenhouse gases emitted by companies covered by the program. How will this affect your company?

Second, I challenge readers to get involved in the discussion. The future of all ocean life depends on how fast we react now, not 50 years from now. Attaining sustainable fishing methods becomes moot when the species we intend to protect begin to starve due to ocean acidification.

 

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