Jon White – From the President’s Office: 12-10-2018

2018-12-10T15:45:02+00:00 December 10, 2018|

Last week, I traveled to Ottawa to give a presentation on ocean security and climate change as it relates to Canadian security and defense concerns. Unlike many ocean-focused events where I talk on this topic, other speakers at The Year Ahead, An International Security, Intelligence and Defense Outlook for 2019 presented a broad range of global security issues, from the rising threat of nuclear warfare and weapons of mass destruction to cyber warfare and election security to global financial crisis concerns and social unrest. I was pleased at how well received the topic of ocean security was and how attendees across the security spectrum considered this issue at least as concerning as the others that were presented.

The Canadian defense sector, along with many international security and intelligence agencies, fully understands the ocean health threats we face now and their implications for our security and safety today. Unfortunately, there are many people outside the sector who view the threat of a changing climate as a bleak future scenario, such as the one in Bladerunner 2049, where rising waters force the construction of a sea wall around Los Angeles. But we’re seeing the effects of a changing climate now, from rising seas and increased flooding to shifting ranges of plants and animals (including those we depend upon for food). Or consider the village of Newtok, Alaska, whose citizens are relocating further inland due to rapid erosion and thawing permafrost — and first made the decision to move almost 15 years ago. To solve the challenges in front of us, we must support the advancement of ocean science and technology — in both investments and policies that equate to real action and problem solving. For this to happen, it is critical that a stable funding environment exists; currently, NSF, NOAA, and NASA’s funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 is uncertain, as Congress is still working to come to an agreement on the remaining spending bills (including Commerce-Justice-Science) after passing a two-week stopgap measure last week.

I’m looking forward to learning more about new ocean science and technology research that will help us solve these challenges at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting this week. If you’re one of the approximately 24,000 people attending, come say hello to COL in the exhibit hall at booth 1440.

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