Climate Change Data: We’re All Shucked

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SciShort_9_3_15Whenever there’s a tough issue with nuances, rhetorical nooks and crannies, or highly technical jargon easily misunderstood by a layperson (me), I usually have one piece of advice: look to Vegas. Which is to say, if you want to get the straightest dope, look to the people who stand to profit. They tend to have the situation, or at least a plan for it, well in hand. A recent study conducted by researchers from OSU, funded by the Oregon Sea Grant, came to more or less the same conclusion as it pertains to increasing ocean acidification.

The study’s results, published last week in The Journal of Shellfish Research, show that upwards of 80% of survey respondents in the shellfish, particularly oyster, industry, are not at all wishy-washy about the acidification of the waters in which they catch their product. This is in contrast to the general public which is still much more agnostic about the effects of climate change on our waters.

“The shellfish industry recognizes the consequences of ocean acidification for people today, people in this lifetime, and for future generations—to a far greater extent than the U.S. public,” said Rebecca Mabardy, lead author on the study, in a press release. “The good news is that more than half of the respondents expressed optimism—at least, guarded optimism—for the industry’s ability to adapt to acidification.”

Also adding to the optimism is the level of sophistication with which the industry is starting to understand the problem. George Waldbusser, an OSU marine ecologist who has worked extensively with the oyster industry in Oregon, weighed in.

“Many have seen the negative effects of acidified water on the survival of their juvenile oysters—and those who have experienced a direct impact obviously have a higher degree of concern about the issue. Others are anticipating the effects of acidification and want to know just what will happen, and how long the impacts may last,” said Waldbusser in the press release.

 As I said, when you’re confused about a complex issue, “Look to Vegas.” In this case, the oyster farmers are the Vegas house, and their betting line does not suggest a wait-and-see approach. And don’t forget, the house always wins.

By Sidney Reilly

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