A Google News search reveals that Obama's 2015 budget includes a much-needed Boost in Ocean Funding. And the best news of all is that there has been a 150% increase in funding for ocean acidification research.
Ocean Acidification Research Funding Sees a Big Increase—
Notably, the president’s budget would provide a much-needed $15 million for ocean acidification research, an increase of $9 million. As the ocean absorbs the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the carbon dioxide is changing the chemistry of the ocean and adversely impacting marine life. This is already having serious economic effects on shellfish growers and others who make their living from the sea. This money would help us better understand the problem and devise solutions that protect coastal economies.
Oh, hang on, wait a minute... Uhmm... $15 million total for ocean acidification research.
[Note — if somebody tells you that some quantity increased X%, where X is a large number, always make sure to check the baseline absolute value of that quantity to see how impressed you should be.]
For reasons I can't quite pinpoint, that humble number reminded me of the DOD's F-35 jet fighter project
The cost estimates in the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] for the cheapest version of the F-35, the Air Force’s F-35A, are the following. (Note these costs as just for production and do not include R&D.)
“The 2014 procurement cost for 19 F-35As will be $2.989 billion.
However, we need to add to that the “long lead” money for the 2014 buy that was appropriated in 2013; that was $293 million, making a total of $3.282 billion for 19 aircraft in 2014.
The math for unit cost comes to $172.7 million for each aircraft.
To be fully accurate, however, we should add the additional procurement money authorized for “modification of aircraft” for F-35As for 2014; that means $158 million more, bringing the total unit production cost to $181 million per copy.
None of that includes the 2014 R&D bill for the F-35A; that was $816 million; calculate that in if you want; I choose not to” [Winslow] Wheeler added.
The Marine Corps and Navy versions are a little pricier...
Speaking of math, we can now say that the amount to be spent on ocean acidification research = 8.3% (rounded up) of the cost of a single, solitary "copy" ( = 1) of the F35 jet fighter (excluding R&D costs of course).
Still, environmentalists and academics were pleased with the table scraps they were offered. At Grist, we find How can we deal with ocean acidification? Step one: Study it.
The concept of ocean acidification isn’t new, but it was only recently that ocean chemistry started to hit closer to home. In 2007, oysters in the Pacific Northwest began to die in droves; the culprit turned out to be an upwelling of acidic water that kept the larval shellfish from building shells. The suddenness of the oyster crash belies the fact that acidification has been and is happening everywhere:
The average acidity of the ocean has increased about 30 percent since pre-industrial times.
In 2009, Congress passed a piece of legislation that you probably napped through, aimed at improving research and monitoring of the ongoing changes in ocean chemistry. This led to NOAA and the National Science Foundation and NASA and the Navy and other bigwig agencies putting their heads together to make a research plan.
That plan came out last week. It covers everything from the biogeochemical (how fast are we losing important carbonate molecules in the ocean and how does this matter to the organisms that live there?) to the socioeconomic (how are communities who depend on these organisms going to be affected?).
Perhaps most importantly, it also includes focus on outreach: How do you get people to care?
OK, step one, make a plan: check.
Step two, fund and carry out this research.
Libby Jewett, NOAA director of ocean acidification and chair of the interagency group that authored the plan, explains that the research plan will serve as a framework for directing money and time in the future. This will involve looking at specific species and ecosystems, some of which are more vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry than others. Some ecological effects are more subtle than full-out death; even minor changes in reproduction or behavior could be serious for a species as a whole.
That text doesn't require any comment from me, right?
In an OregonLive editorial, professors Burke Hales and George Waldbusser of the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) at Oregon State University hope some loose change is thrown their way.
Luckily for those of us in Oregon, when it comes to improving our scientific understanding of ocean acidification, our state has led the way. Business-science partnerships are already bringing economic security to coastal communities.
Oregon State University researchers began working onsite at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery years ago, creating an academic-industry partnership model for tackling ocean acidification by tracking the problem and giving hatchery managers the power of prediction and adaptation.
Similar partnerships are now underway in California, Washington and Alaska with university scientists installing research-grade equipment at shellfish hatcheries, helping to identify immediate responses for adaptation allowing businesses to survive.
By all means, study the problem.
Ocean acidification research = $15,000,000.
The total 2015 budget of the president = $3,900,000,000,000.
That's 0.0004% (rounding up of course).
And I was just thinking—this is just a random thought, I'm a little groggy this morning—that if you want to deal with ocean acidification, it seems to me ... I'm just thinking outloud here ... that you might want to stop putting so much CO2 into the atmosphere, from where it subsequently gets taken up by the oceans.
This is called the ocean carbon sink [short video below].
I can't think of a way to do it right now, but I'm a little off my game at the moment.
Perhaps a few of my faithful readers could help me out.