World leaders gathered last week in Copenhagen at the UN Climate Summit to discuss climate change with the aim to set targets to reduce CO2 emissions. The scientific community stated that industrialized nations needed to cut emissions by 40% by 2020 to reduce the severity of climate change. Although climate change is a global problem, and will impact small island nations more than most, it was left largely to the USA and China to broker a political agreement. Although the agreement recognizes the scientific merit of limiting temperature rises to no more than 2 C (3.6 F), it does not set CO2 targets to achieve this. In that sense, the UN Climate Summit was a failure.
The study in Jamaica funded by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has two parts. One part that is examining the effects of climate change on coral reef sponges is going very well and will finish in a few days. The second part is to examine the potential of farming bath sponges to provide an alternative and environmentally friendly source of income for local fisherman, similar to work that I did with Torres Strait Islanders in Australia. “Bath sponges” are the cleaned spongin skeletons of certain sponge species. Sponges are easily farmed in mesh panels or on lines and can double in size in 6 months when grown in optimal conditions.