Useful Rebuttals to Popular Environmental Misconceptions over Thanksgiving Dinner

Posted by: Amanda Sackett

holiday turkey dinner

In anticipation of this Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I decided to take the time to research a few questions I know I might encounter. In my family, Thanksgiving is a time for relatives to share their values and viewpoints with each other. Once in a while, these friendly conversations turn into heated debates. As a student of environmental policy, originally from Ohio, my inquiring family members always seem to enjoy playing devil’s advocate with me when I explain to them the importance of what I am studying. I remember last Thanksgiving, as I was setting off for graduate school, being faced with many questions about how my degree will be useful in “real life.” Now, I am armed and prepared to defend my views to my conservative and well- intentioned family members. Below are a few corrections to popular misconceptions I’ve come across in the past.  I won’t be caught off guard this year!

1.  “What’s all this about global warming? It’s snowing here, I don’t notice any difference.”

I’m sure to come across this one. Luckily, the rebuttal has been extensively researched by thousands of the world’s top scientists for decades and last time I checked, none of my family members are climate scientists.

I’m going to go with the scientists on this one. The term “global warming” seems to have caused some confusion. The politically correct term to refer to the trend that greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere causes is now officially known as “climate change.” Climate change is real and ,  so get your head out of the sand. The overall trend does happen to be a warming trend, however, extreme variances in climate is the more accurate description. You can check out precipitation and temperature effects on an projected into the future.

2.  “Ocean acida…what?”

Since my passion and focus in graduate school are ocean issues, I want to be able to clear this one up. Ocean Acidification. The oceans, along with forests are historically known as “carbon sinks”.  They absorb carbon from the atmosphere and thus far have been mitigating the effects of global climate change.  Absorbing all this carbon comes at a price – the ocean’s pH has already become more acidic, and will continue this process until it reaches a point where it is likely to be inhospitable to many important marine animals, including coral reefs and much of the food web’s base.  that the ocean is reaching its maximum absorption potential for carbon and could become a source for carbon, emitting it back into the atmosphere and exacerbating climate change even further.

If there’s one thing we should be stressing about, this issue should be on top of the list. Maybe in Ohio those beloved relatives of mine who have never seen the ocean might still not quite understand what the big deal is, yet, I’m sure they enjoy their seafood, scuba diving vacations and not to mention life as we know it on Earth. Luckily, the EPA is finally taking action.

3. “Sea level won’t really rise from the arctic and icebergs melting.”

This one really gets me every time. It’s really a silly little misunderstanding that can easily be resolved.

Sea level rise is not due to melting icebergs and the like. It happens to be a little phenomenon physicists like to call thermal expansion. Perhaps you remember from high school a topic called thermodynamics, pretty basic. Increased temperature is directly related to increased volume. As global temperature increases in the oceans, so does the volume of water. Most human beings are , by the way.  Furthermore, this process could seriously slow or stop the earth’s climate regulatory cycle known as the thermo-haline cycle.


4. “Fish can’t even feel they’re just mindless insentient creatures. Not to mention that the oceans are so vast; humans can’t possibly have a significant impact on all life.”

Actually, much of the marine life that we consume is extremely sentient and intelligent.  The sea should be viewed as a wilderness, tuna as lions, sharks as tigers and swordfish as polar bears, perhaps. Anyone would be outraged to see any of their land dwelling counterparts in our grocery stores. This point of view should be taken into consideration when grocery shopping. This is not a call for everyone to become vegan but rather for these creatures to be seen for what they are, which is magnificent. Their consumption should be a luxury or delicacy. Furthermore, currently 80% of the world’s fisheries are overfished or in danger of being overfished. It’s a fact; .


Date Posted: November 23, 2010 @ 10:43 am Comments Off

Posted by: Chris Laughlin


First, thank you for your generous support in what we knew would be an important election.  Because of you, Ocean Champions invested more money to than ever before.  And our investment payed off.

Many Congressional leaders on ocean conservation issues – the candidates endorsed and supported by Ocean Champions – won hard-fought victories.  In Tuesday’s general election, .  Combined with results from the primaries, we forged 23 victories against only 7 defeats (the additional victory was a second defeat of “ocean enemy #1” Richard Pombo).

Unfortunately, several strong champions were defeated, including Congressman Frank Kratovil (MD-D).  Considering that a few other champions were lost through retirement, there will be some work to do in the 112th Congress.

Importantly, the next Congress will be very different than the current one. Tuesday’s election clearly changes the priorities and focus of the House and the Senate.  With Republicans regaining the majority in the House, Committee Chairmanships will change hands, and the work of these Committees will be defined and guided by the ideologies of their new leaders.   In the coming days, we will share our thoughts on exactly what these changes will mean for ocean policy, but know that Ocean Champions is not only up for the challenge but uniquely positioned to protect past ocean policy victories against new attacks and to take advantage of the opportunities (and there will be a few) with the new 112th Congress.

However, we have unfinished business in the 111th Congress.  We’ve been able to drive a number of strong ocean bills to the brink of success, and when Congress returns for a so-called Lame-Duck session next week we will do everything in our power to ensure victories in areas such as:

  • Improving coastal water quality by passing the ,
  • Funding innovative programs to , and
  • to fund ocean conservation projects

Together we must fight with all we’ve got to deliver these victories and roll into the 112th Congress with momentum, ready and able to protect our oceans.

Date Posted: November 4, 2010 @ 2:30 pm Comments Off

Posted by: Chris Laughlin



Date Posted: November 2, 2010 @ 10:37 am Comments Off