Commonwealth National Podcast

Salt, Oil and Carbon

Duration: 
1:09:08

Salt, Oil and Carbon



Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Nancy Sutley, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality, the White House
Greg Dalton, Founder of Climate One

 

A new national oceans policy will require a patchwork of federal agencies to collaborate on managing the country’s oceans and lakes for the first time, according to Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. They told a Climate One audience the creation of a National Oceans Council should help streamline and centralize the fractured system that had existed before. “What we have is a whole new dimension of collaboration,” says Sutley. The pair’s enthusiasm for the new reforms was tempered by the dire state of the oceans and the manifold threats that promise to degrade them further. Lubchenco notes that the acidity of the oceans has increased by 30% in the past 100 years. That is compromising the ability of calcium carbonate-shelled creatures to make shells, she says, threatening the “rainforests of the sea” – coral reefs – and placing in jeopardy the base of the marine food web. How will the BP oil disaster affect the health of the Gulf of Mexico? Lubchenco says it will take years to really know. Of the 4.9 million barrels that gushed into the deep ocean, Lubchenco says ¼ was burned, skimmed, or captured; ¼ evaporated; ¼ was dispersed, naturally or by chemicals; and the last ¼ collected as sheen on the surface, in tar balls, or washed ashore. Lubchenco remains concerned about the very dilute but still toxic oil that remains below the surface. “Dilute does not mean benign,” she says.

 

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on September 8, 2010

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