Interview with Dr. Carol Turley, Senior scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Communicator of science to convey the voices of the Earth and oceans

Ocean acidification is one of the issues caused mainly by CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Recent discovery of its current status has highlighted the need for further investigation and research. Dr. Carol Turley told us how today's scientists must broadly communicate about this issue, which relates to every one of us who live on Earth. This interview demonstrated her sense of mission as a scientist and her personal affection toward the ocean.

Interview Summary:

―There has been active scientific research into the issue of ocean acidification in recent years.

There has been a large increase in science publications on ocean acidification. What we really need to get to in the future is how ocean acidification impacts communities of species and whole ecosystems. These meta-analyses indicate that organisms that calcify and produce shells or skeletons are more vulnerable than others. Coral reef growth is slowing down. There is a lot more we need to do to understand what is happening. The only real solution to ocean acidification is reduction of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. It is a global problem. There must be international collaboration and international negotiation to reduce CO2 emissions.

―The situation seems to be reaching a crisis point. How can we communicate this to people more effectively?

The only way of making people aware of things is to make sure that they hear about it. That means scientists, putting their head above the parapet, being brave and communicating science in an easy way so that people can understand. We go to schools and we talk to children, and they get it. If children can understand something, then, policymakers can as well. We will go and talk to policymakers and build trust with them. Political priorities are often different from scientific priorities, and therefore can drive the science.

―The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) talk about the sustainable use and preservation of marine and coastal ecosystems.

One of the sub parts of Sustainable Development Goal 14 is specifically on ocean acidification. That is to understand ocean acidification and to reduce its impact, including through international collaboration and development. The other thing we can do is to build monitoring and observing networks. If you are not monitoring ocean acidification, you cannot measure it, which means you cannot manage it. We need to do that for policy-making. There are a lot of countries in the world that are not observing it, and a lot of developing countries do not have the capacity to do that. Those countries that can have the ability, knowledge and training need to build the capacity around the world. Then we need to share that data in one big global database so that we know what's coming and when because this data will help feed the models that enable us to look into the future and plan ahead.

―Japanese people, who have lived surrounded by sea, appreciate its benefits, but do not seem to fully understand ocean acidification or recognize its impact.

Britain is an island nation surrounded by sea. We all like to go by the sea for our holidays, even if it is raining. I think it is the same in Japan. Ten or fifteen years ago, no one in the UK, other than one or two scientists, heard about ocean acidification. Even with lots of interviews and press activities, there is about 20% of UK public who have heard about ocean acidification. It is better than none, and these things take time. I think science has a real job to play here. Scientists have a role to play in communicating how important the ocean is to everyone on Earth. Because the ocean is so important to Japan, Japanese society, Japanese food and culture, actually seeing what the future impact would be if we don't change, may make a difference to everyone's reactions and policymakers' as well. So, communication, communication, communication.


Play the video below for a full interview with Dr. Carol Turley.

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