Tuesday, 11 January 2005: 2:30 PM
Effects of Climate Change on Resources and Society – National, Regional and Local Implications of the Recommendations of the US Commission on Ocean Policy
The US Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP), a 16-member body appointed by President George W. Bush in mid-2001 and charged by the Oceans Act of 2000 to establish findings and make recommendations to the President and the Congress for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy, presented its final report in Fall 2004. This is the first comprehensive assessment of US ocean policy since the Stratton Commission's seminal report in 1969. The USCOP addressed a broad range of issues, from stewardship of living marine resources and pollution prevention to enhancing and supporting marine science, commerce, and marine transportation, natural and man-made hazards, and US participation in the international arena. Over the past three years, the Commission held 16 public meetings, including 9 regional hearings, made 18 site visits to laboratories, marine facilities and industrial sites, heard expert testimony from nearly 450 witnesses representing a broad cross-section of the nation's interests in coastal and ocean affairs, plus received detailed comments from 37 governors, five tribal leaders, and many, many stakeholders and interested parties. Although not a major focus of the Commission's work, climate change and variability were among the many issues considered in its deliberations.
Relatively early in its deliberative process, the Commission adopted 13 guiding principles. Among these are the necessity for the nation to utilize an ecosystem-based approach to resource management and to recognize the inextricable relationships among the oceans, the land, and the atmosphere. Central to the development of ecosystem-based management will be the determination of how best to link coastal watersheds with adjacent large marine ecosystems. This will be an essential step in helping to unravel impacts of climate change on sea level rise, coastal subsidence, storm frequency and intensity and especially for improving predictive capacity and planning to reduce effects on society. Numerous other Commission recommendations, such as for development and implementation of a sustained Integrated Ocean Observing System, improved management of coastal hazards, reduced federal incentives for inappropriate coastal development, enhanced research on global water, heat and carbon cycles and impacts of climate variation on marine and coastal ecosystems, and others will be presented and their implications for improvements at national, regional and local levels discussed. These will be illustrated with examples from observing system work currently underway in the Southeastern US and a new NOAA research program dealing with the ecological effects of sea level rise.