Ocean Tipping Points in D.C.

Last week, members of the Ocean Tipping Points team hosted a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. The symposium, “Finding the Balance: Collaboration on Social-Ecological Tipping Points” focused on the importance of understanding tipping points and the dramatic social, economic, and ecological impacts that crossing these tipping points can have on marine communities.

The symposium room was filled with curiosity; from scientists to journalist, everyone in the nearly 100 person audience was eager to learn and engage in the conversation. Ocean Tipping Points team leader, Carrie Kappel acted as the discussant and organizer for the session, with Phil Levin, Kim Selkoe and Tim Lenton giving individual presentations. Dr. Levin spoke in depth about how growing pressures on herring are affecting the culture and economy of the people of Haida Gwaii, with a special focus on cultural impacts to First Nation members. Dr. Selkoe’s talk revolved around how collaborative efforts in Hawai‘i could reverse abrupt changes in coral reef ecosystems by simultaneously addressing ocean and land based stressors. Meanwhile, Dr. Lenton argued that climate models should incorporate tipping point science to better understand the social, environmental and economic costs of climate change.

In addition to this successful symposium, Phil Levin and Carrie Kappel held meetings with Capitol Hill agencies in an effort to share the importance of understanding and accounting for tipping points in environmental policymaking. The first meeting was held with interagency working group members and staff of the Global Change Research Program; the second with the White House Center for Environmental Quality and Office of Management and Budget staff; the final meeting was with Congressional Research Service staff. The feedback from all of these organizations was overwhelmingly positive and gave Levin and Kappel hope for tipping points science playing a role in future ecosystem-based management decision-making.

You can find a full description of all of the presentations given during our AAAS session here: https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2016/webprogram/Session12133.html

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