Image courtesy of Melissa Rosenberg
Speaking at Oceana's 2007 Partners Award gala in Los Angeles last Friday, former Vice President Al Gore warned of the global implications of increased ocean acidification and of the impending melting of the Arctic ice caps. Gore - citing the study recently released by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado (NSDIC) - said that if the scientists' worst-case projections hold, we could be looking at a complete melting of the Arctic's sea ice within the next decade. Drawing a parallel between revelations several decades ago about the ozone layer's depletion that initially went unheeded and the current situation, Gore lamented the general lack of attention this study had received among mainstream news outlets - jokingly laying the blame on the media's fixation with fluff stories like Britney and Paris' latest travails - since its release in September. Citing the success of the Montreal Protocol, a bipartisan, international effort brokered by former President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Gore made the case for another international collaboration to tackle this pressing issue. He warned that inaction on this and carbon dioxide-induced acidification would lead to drastic changes in the oceans' biogeochemistry and food webs, including the global collapse of most large fish stocks. Though he displayed his characteristic vigor and passion for the subject, Gore at times sounded very downbeat about the planet's future - explaining how worried he was by some of the NSIDC senior scientists' gloomy projections - and concluded his speech with an emotional appeal for new ideas and solutions.
Along with Al Gore, who was recognized for his work on raising awareness about global warming with a Partners Award, Daniel Pauly, the Director of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre and a world renowned fisheries expert, was honored at the event - receiving the organization's Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award. One of the creators of FishBase, a database with information on over 26,000 species of fish, and the author of several highly regarded scientific papers, Pauly kept his acceptance speech to a curt few sentences - simply emphasizing the need for small, instrumental steps to achieve larger results.