President Obama’s top science and technology adviser warned that man-made climate change is putting shrimp, lobsters, crabs and oysters at risk.
John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at a White House-sponsored event that some of the excess carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater to form carbonic acid.
Vice President Joe Biden, who also addressed the summit, said there would be “winners and losers” as the U.S. transitions to a sustainable energy source.
“This puts at risk all of the marine organisms that make their shells from calcium carbonate including shrimp, oysters, lobsters, crabs and many of the zooplankton near the base of ocean food webs,” Holdren said at the White House’s Summit on Climate & the Road through Paris: Business & Science. “We know too that climate change will continue for many decades to come.”
According to Holdren, the “pace and pattern of the changes in climate” that have occurred since the industrial revolution match with “great fidelity” what climate science told us would result from the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
“Clear beyond reasonable doubt is that the ongoing human-caused changes in climate are already causing harm to life, property, economics and ecosystems including more extremely hot days and longer and stronger heat waves often accompanied by worse smog,” Holdren said.
“Longer allergy seasons, a larger fraction of total precipitation coming in extreme downpours resulting in floods and mudslides, an increase in the power of the strongest tropical storms, shoreline erosion and aggravation, coastal flooding by sea levels rising, longer and more intense droughts in regions prone to drought, a longer wildfire season and larger areas burned in regions prone to that and major impacts on ecosystem dynamics, including the factors governing pest outbreaks and geographic ranges of tropical diseases,” he added.
Biden told the audience he had to leave a meeting with President Obama to attend the event.
“As much as I love you I’ve been in a meeting with the president on other matters for the last two hours and it’s hard to say, ‘Mr. President, you’re on your own. I’m leaving.’ Although he is on his own. He doesn’t need me,” he said.
Biden called the business sector, corporate America and the financial sectors “indispensible partners” in combating climate change.
“Absent your judgment that we have to act to have a sustainable energy source, we’re not going to get anywhere,” he said.
Biden said the government should be mindful of the impact on the coal industry.
“We would be lying to one another if we didn’t acknowledge there’s winners and losers as we make this transition. There are — we try to accommodate for that in our suggestions — for example, coal,” Biden said.
“There’s a whole group of hard-working, decent, honorable people who’ve built an entire culture for the last 150 years around coal. It’s not just a salary, it’s not just a coalmine, it’s how you get married, how you get buried, what your social mores are, what churches you go to,” he added, referencing his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
Biden pointed out that the coal miners and others would ultimately be hurt by the development of alternative energy sources.
“Those of my liberal friends who just dismiss this notion that, ‘well, it’s just the way transitions occur’ – there are people who get hurt. There will be industries that get hurt, and it matters, and we have an obligation to help them transition,” he said.