April 20, 2016

Senate Democrats Host Roundtable Discussion with Leading Oceans Experts

At Roundtable led by Senators Whitehouse and Klobuchar, Current and Former NOAA Administrators, World-Renowned Ocean Explorer, and Leading Oceans Scientists Discuss Challenges Facing Oceans and Coasts

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senate Democrats convened a group of leading oceans experts at the U.S. Capitol today for a roundtable discussion on some of the major challenges facing our oceans and coasts—such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, and extreme weather linked to climate change—as well as the need for increased investments in coastal resiliency and ocean exploration and research. 

Whitehouse, a co-Chair and co-founder of the Senate Oceans Caucus, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, led the discussion.

“Oceans and coasts are among our most valuable economic assets and they face serious challenges that policymakers need to address.  Seas are rising along our shores, driven by warming, expanding waters and melting glaciers.  Oceans are acidifying, driven by the carbon pollution we dump into our atmosphere and leading to major consequences for marine life.  Extreme weather—which can be intensified by warming waters—is projected to grow more frequent as global climate change continues.  In Congress and around the world, we need to better understand these challenges if we’re going to find effective ways to respond,” said Whitehouse. “That’s why it is important for senators to hear directly from experts like these.  I thank everyone who joined the discussion today.”

Participants in the discussion included: 

Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who directs NOAA’s work on oceans, weather and water services, climate science, integrated mapping, and earth-observing capabilities.  Dr. Sullivan was among the first six women selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut corps in 1978 and was the first American woman to walk in space. 

Dr. Bob Ballard, Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.  Dr. Ballard is a renowned ocean explorer who discovered the RMS Titanic, as well as numerous other historic shipwrecks.  He is also a National Geographic Society Explorer-In-Residence and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. 

Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the world’s leading experts in coral reef ecology.  Dr. Jackson previously served as Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

Philippe Cousteau, President/Co-Founder, EarthEcho International, who is an award-winning television host, producer, author, speaker, philanthropist, and social entrepreneur.  He is the son of Philippe Cousteau Sr. and grandson of Jacques Cousteau. 

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Professor, Oregon State University, who is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist with expertise in oceans, biodiversity, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being.  Dr. Lubchenco served as NOAA Administrator from 2009-2013. 

Dr. Ru Morrison, Executive Director, Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, one of the eleven regions of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing Systems.

Dr. Michael Goff, President and CEO, Northeast-Midwest Institute, which focuses on restoring and protecting the region’s water systems, including the Great Lakes. 


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921