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Stop Studying, Clean up the Ocean

You can agree or disagree about climate change or global warming, or whatever you want to call it. But there's one thing many can likely agree on: Stop pollution of the oceans.

Now a top government watchdog says even all of the taxpayer money tossed at cleaning up the seas is going toward studies and commissions instead of actually stopping the acidification of the ocean.

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released a new report that says taxpayer-funded federal agencies that are paid to stop ocean acidification still are not doing enough, given their mandates under a 2009 law.

Oceans act as a sink catcher, taking in all of the junk tossed off by the world’s farms factories and vehicles. Ocean acidification is driven by pollution, notably carbon dioxide, which when dropped into the ocean can increase carbonic acid when combined with water. Ocean marine and plant life gets hurt. That includes oysters, clams and other mollusks and coral reefs. All highly disruptive to the ocean’s food chain. And disruptive to economic activity, including commercial fishing and tourism. If you want to help the global economy, clean up the ocean.

The ocean absorbs more than a quarter of carbon emissions. In turn, the ocean’s acid levels have spiked by a 26% over the last two centuries, according to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

If you don’t think water pollution is a problem, just look at what happened last month to Lake Erie on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio. Massive runoff from farms into Lake Erie created a toxic algae bloom, a neon-green cloud of pollution that poisoned the water and sickened locals, including their pets. Locals were warned the algae could cause liver or kidney damage. A run on water bottles at Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Costco (NASDAQ:COST) ensued, like something right out of a Stephen King novel, and the governor had to declare a state of emergency.

"The current rate of acidification is believed to be faster than at any point in at least the last 20 million years," the GAO explained in its latest report about the state of the ocean.

It added that acidification: "may pose risks for some marine species and ecosystems, as well as for the coastal communities that rely on them for food and commerce. The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FOARAM), requires various federal entities to take specific actions related to ocean acidification."

But instead we have yet another new federal task force that’s supposed to “raise awareness” of this problem in the federal government.

Specifically, the GAO says despite all of the money tossed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it is not doing enough under the FOARAM law. That law mandated the Ocean Acidification (OA) program at NOAA in order to fight increasing acidity in the world's largest waterways. But the GAO says the agency still isn’t doing enough to actually stop the problem.

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