Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne has been appointed to the Ocean Acidification Commission.
Maine is the first state on the East Coast to establish a commission to identify what is known – and not known – about ocean acidification in our coastal waters. The State Legislature recently passed a law to establish a group of experts to recommend needed research, outreach, and actions to protect Maine’s shellfish harvesting and aquaculture industries.
At a June 27 press conference, Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne was introduced as one of the 16 members of the commission. Joe, ever the scientist, demonstrated graphically how carbon dioxide changes the chemistry of seawater. After tinting the water with a dye that indicates pH (how acidic or basic a substance is), Joe dropped a chunk of dry ice (frozen CO2) into the basin. Within seconds, amid an explosive transformation of CO2 from solid to gas, the water absorbed the carbon dioxide, becoming more acidic and changing color from yellow-green to deep red.
The purpose of the press conference was to sound the alarm about ocean acidification, both at the state level and nationally. Representative Chellie Pingree spoke about a bill she has introduced in Congress to study the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities.