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Members of scientific mission say their studies underline need to combat climate change

02-10-2012 07:55 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Tara Oceans expedition visited the UN on Thursday to explain how their work studying plankton in marine habitats around the world is helping illuminate the science of climate change and spread the word about the global challenge.

"If we unbalance the life of these organisms in the oceans this can lead to dramatic results, including the rapid change in the atmosphere that we are living in," Eric Karsenti, scientific director of the expedition, told reporters during a press conference about Tara.

The Tara Oceans expedition is a three-year long scientific mission around the world to investigate the impact of climate change on oceans through the study of marine plankton. The scientific research vessel began its trip in September 2009 in France and is currently in the midst of a week-long stop in New York.

The Tara Oceans team, along with fashion designer, Agnes B, the main sponsor of the expedition, met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier on Thursday and briefed him on the project.

Karsenti explained that the marine plankton are a great way to study climate change, because they are impacted by it quite rapidly, making them "very good indicators" of the health of the ocean and therefore of the planet.

Karsenti said that when earth warms "it will change the behavior of these organisms, it will induce acidification of the oceans, loss of oxygen in many areas in the oceans also."

"So there is really a need for urgent policies to develop renewable energy sources, as we know already, but this is another reason to emphasize this here," he noted. "There is also a vital need for international monitoring of the ocean and supervised harvesting policies and fishing policies."

Tara Ocean's mission, however, is not only about studying the seas, but also about teaching others, according to Karsenti.

"Each time the boat stops in the harbor either the children come on the boat or we go and talk to them in schools," he said.

The expedition has reached children from all parts of the globe with lessons about marine biology and climate change.

Philippe Kridelka of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who also spoke at the press conference, said that his agency is proud to be associated with the Tara expedition.

"This partnership between UNESCO and UNESCO's oceanographic program and Tara is extremely important for us because it helps us to raise awareness about the importance of oceans and the importance of biodiversity on the global agenda," he said.

Kridelka emphasized the ability of projects like Tara to facilitate dialogue and transmit important information between scientists and the public as well as between scientists and political decision-makers.

He also mentioned the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), which will take place in Rio de Janeiro from June 20-22, as well as the aftermath, in which the UN will try to shape a post- 2015 agenda for sustainable development.

"We know that as far as challenges are concerned, as far as UNESCO is concerned, we would like to see oceans better recognized on the development agenda," said Kridelka. "We know that oceans and costal resources represent more than 5 percent of global GNP ( gross national product). It is an extremely important tool to increase sustainable development, and create sustainable jobs in developing nations in the future."

Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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