Fisheries are being depleted. Coral reefs are dying as ocean temperatures rise. Acidification is harming whole species of sea-dwelling creatures, including the Dungeness crab, a staple of the local economy.
Climate change is causing sea levels to rise. The Trump administration is opening up offshore oil exploration, and cutting science funding.
To the average headline reader, the state of the ocean is bleak. But for Jeff Dorman, who studies ocean science, more people are interested in engaging on solutions to these problems, and it isn’t all doom and gloom.
“It’s not entirely pessimistic,” said Dorman, executive director of the Petaluma- based Farallon Institute. “There are certainly things going on in the ocean that we’d like to change.”
Tonight, Dorman will present the State of the Ocean, a presentation at the Petaluma Hotel, which will also mark the Farallon’s 10th anniversary. The nonprofit scientific organization is dedicated to the understanding and preservation of healthy marine ecosystems. Its team of scientists produce research papers designed at influencing policy and protecting the marine world.
The free event, at 6 p.m., will focus on broad, global topics, like plastic waste polluting the Pacific and coral bleaching, as well as subjects germane to the North Coast. Dorman acknowledged that the world’s oceans currently face great challenges, but he said Petaluma is a hotbed for the kind of environmental advocacy that can make a difference.
“It feels a little bleak at the national level,” he said. “At the local level, there is a lot of great stuff going on. As I look around at what’s happening in Petaluma, a lot of changes can be made locally.”
As an example, Dorman pointed to Petaluma and California’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, despite the federal government’s intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. The presentation will include drinks and snacks and a question and answer session with Farallon president Bill Sydeman, an expert on climate effects on marine life.
Dorman, who has spent many wind-filled days on a boat in the Cordell Bank off of Point Reyes, said the talk should appeal to hardcore science buffs, but also to the layman interested in hearing about ways to help the ocean’s health.
“We want to make this a community event,” he said. “We will try and make this accessible for everyone.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)