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New Alliance Meets In San Diego, Addresses Ocean Changes

Scientists are gathering at the Hotel del Coronado Tuesday to focus attention on a global problem that touches San Diego — ocean acidification.

Scientists are gathering Tuesday at the Hotel del Coronado to focus attention on the global issue of ocean acidification.

The oceans cover 70 percent of the planet, act as an engine for more than $2.5 trillion worth of economic activity, and feed 2.6 billion people.

But the oceans are changing as they absorb more carbon dioxide from a warming climate. The oceans are becoming more acidic and that's stressing plants and animals that live beneath the surface.

Photo by Alison St John

A stretch of beach near the Oceanside Pier is seen in this photo, October 2016.

The changes will touch everyone on the planet.

"Everything we do is intrinsically linked with the health of our oceans, so we need to remember that we need to take care of it because it takes care of us," said Skyli McAfee of the Nature Conservancy.

The new alliance, which is meeting in San Diego for the first time Tuesday, will work to map out ways to soften the blow of acidification.

"We need to be thinking about strategies that build and enhance, biodiverse, very complex, very healthy ecosystems. And those ecosystems, science is telling us, are better able to withstand the kinds of stresses and the kinds of impacts we're expecting from acidification," McAfee.

Strategies include working with farmers to reduce nutrient rich runoff, encouraging the development of more resilient corals, and increasing the number of marine protected areas.

Encouraging diverse underwater populations is one key to making those populations more resilient, McAfee said.

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