NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The oceans figure prominently into the mechanisms of a warming planet. A warming, acidified ocean, rich in CO-2, not only threatens polar ice and perpetuates climbing global temperatures, but puts important species in danger. Ocean acidity on both coasts of the United States has already begun wreaking havoc on shellfish communities.
Despite its relevance to the climate conversation, the oceans won't be a specific talking point this week at the United Nations Climate Summit.
Ocean advocates aren't happy about that fact. Over the weekend, the Global Ocean Commission delivered a petition to the U.N. demanding a new international agreement to protect the planet's oceans. The petition was signed by more than 260,000 people, including officials from a number of prominent ocean conservation organizations.
"We want to thank each and every one of those citizens who have signed our petition," José María Figueres, co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission, said during a press conference. "The U.N. General Assembly opening this week must urgently initiate negotiations for a high seas agreement so that ocean health and its restoration are finally recognized as a global priority."
The latest U.N. report on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change -- which suggested CO-2 concentrations are rising at a accelerated pace -- acknowledged ocean acidification as an urgent problem.
"If the oceans and the biosphere cannot absorb as much carbon, the effect on the atmosphere could be much worse," Oksana Tarasova, a climate scientist with WMO's Global Atmospheric Watch program and author of the latest report, told the Washington Post last week.
Certainly, the larger discussion propelled by U.N. scientists and its run of climate reports signals an understanding of the ocean's importance. But the focus of this week's climate summit will be on the possibility of international greenhouse gas restrictions, and will, at least for now, ignore the specifics of ocean health.