If you followed the news out of D.C. last week, you already know that the president released his budget request for the coming fiscal year. You can read about details of the “skinny budget” below, but the short version is that the proposed cuts to NOAA and NASA Earth science programs would be alarming if enacted. While we are a long way and many congressional iterations from having a budget, this certainly bears close watching with an eye of great concern, and I’ll repeat a point that I’ve made before. As this administration attempts to balance national needs and their priorities (which are national defense-heavy) in the budget process, our consortium, as well as the broader ocean science and technology community, must clearly communicate the dire consequences of cuts like these to our nation’s security and prosperity. We know the value of the ocean to our country’s national and homeland security, economic prosperity, and food safety. But not everybody knows that fisheries provide 20% of the protein in humans’ diet (but 90% of the world’s fisheries are fully- or overexploited or have collapsed) or that oceanography has provided us with the necessary advantage to win wars and protect our maritime interests. I ask everyone in the ocean science community to accept this challenge and to actively share with others outside of our community how critical the ocean is to our survival – and the drastic impacts that will come from cutting the federal agencies responsible for understanding it.
We’ve been doing this quite a bit last week, to include our press release and a panel I participated in as part of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI)’s release of their Ocean Action Agenda. This excellent agenda represents the culmination of years of effort and describes “actions essential to securing a future for our oceans, and the health and wealth of our nation.” It is a pleasure to have worked with JOCI in the past few years as they crafted this agenda, which is quite complementary to our priorities and efforts at COL. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, given that both organizations trace their roots to Admiral James D. Watkins, who I think would be sharing our concerns and call to action if he were alive today.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Southern California: Why do red tides happen?
Red tides – where seawater appears to turn red due to a high concentration of toxin-producing dinoflagellates – don’t happen at random, a study has found, proposing the first method to predict when red tides will occur in southern California. The study in the journal Ecology takes a more holistic view of marine data from the past 30 years to study many of the potential causes of the blooms at once. “Red tides were a mystery for so many years because we were looking at the ecosystem as if it was in equilibrium and unchanging and therefore could be studied a piece at a time,” said study author George Sugihara of the University of California San Diego in a statement.