Climate Change Impacts and Solutions: Ocean Acidification in New York City


When atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in ocean water, it creates carbonic acid. This process, known as ocean acidification, is the result of increasing carbon emissions and the impact of man-made climate change. While ocean acidification is a major environmental concern all over the world, carbon dioxide is most soluble in colder water temperatures, posing an even greater risk to our local northeast coast. According to NOAA, the ocean absorbs roughly 30% of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is slowly decreasing ocean pH. The current average surface water pH is 8.1, but is projected to fall to 7.8 by the end of the century — reaching levels that have not been actualized in the last 14-17 million years. This changing environment will significantly impact aquatic life and habitat, along with the humans who utilize the ocean for their benefit. While ocean acidification has yet to be fully understood, New York State and City have been working diligently to better understand these impacts in hopes of developing meaningful and effective solutions.

In August 2018, The New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) unveiled its 14-member Ocean Acidification Task Force as a means to assess the impacts on ecological, economic, and recreational health. Established by Governor Andrew Cuomo, this force of appointed individuals with a wide range of expertise will identify local contributing factors and recommend actions to reduce negative impacts. The Ocean Acidification Task Force last met on December 3, 2019. 

In January 2019, DEC and the New York Sea Grant announced $570,000 in ocean research funding to Stony Brook University, CUNY York College, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to better understand climate change impacts on marine resources. This grant has been prioritized as part of the 10-year Ocean Action Plan (OAP). While projects have been delayed, they are currently underway and are projected to continue through 2021. As we begin to better understand the changes taking place in our oceans, we can push forward to develop the innovative solutions necessary to combat man-made climate change and ocean acidification impacts.   

Beef Up Your Diet With The New Plant-Based Beyond Burger

Environment, Science

For many meat lovers, the thought of giving up that juicy steak is daunting. Unfortunately, with its high carbon emission production rate, meat consumption is a leading cause of climate change. If more people transitioned to plant-based diets, or even reduced meat intake to some small degree, the effects of climate change would decrease exponentially.

The fact is, transitioning to a vegan, vegetarian, or reduced-meat diet is really, really challenging. And for those who love meat, the transition seems near impossible.

But what if carnivores could have their meat and eat it too?

The Beyond Burger is the answer. The Beyond Burger is a plant-based patty that provides 20 grams of plant protein per serving. That means it packs even more protein than a traditional meat patty. In fact, when you compare the Beyond Burger to a traditional meat patty, this plant-based powerhouse wins on all counts. It’s even completely free of antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms, soy, and gluten.

Beyond Meat Weigh In

So what is this burger actually made of, if not meat? Peas are the primary protein source and beet juice is used for color. There are a few other ingredients too, like sunflower oil, food starch, and citrus fruit extract. The exhaustive list of ingredients and nutrition information can be found here.

I first learned about this new burger brand after Leonardo DiCaprio publicly announced his endorsement and investment in Beyond Meat on Twitter. As one of my biggest environmental role models, I knew I had to give it a try.

During my lunch break, I took a short walk to Terri, a small, vegan health food chain that just began selling the Beyond Burger. When I opened the packaging, I noticed that it looked exactly like any other burger. Color, size, toppings, you name it, everything seemed to be identical. After the very first bite, I realized what all the hype was about. I actually had to continuously remind myself that I was eating a serving of vegetables and not cow. It was that similar. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few subtle differences, like a slightly softer consistency (though, that could be due to preparation) and a beet-flavored aftertaste. (Though I wouldn’t consider those to be cons, just differences.)

The only true con was its $12 price tag. But like I said, I went to a small, all-vegan health food chain in the financial district. There isn’t much in that area of NYC that I would consider affordable, but there are other, more reasonable options available. The Beyond Burger tagline reads, “The world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies so much like beef it’s in the meat section of grocery stores.” That’s right, Beyond Meat patties are also available in a variety of grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Shaw’s, to name a few. That means you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg at your local, high-priced cafes and corner stores. See the full distribution list here.

Giving up meat at any capacity isn’t easy. It requires commitment and determination. But in a world where we’re all constantly threatened by climate change and its destructive impact, considering a new option certainly isn’t the worst idea. (Besides, who couldn’t use a few extra servings of veggies?)

It’s never too late to make a change and do something positive for the planet, animals, and people.


Spirit Science

A Scientific Guide to Shrinking Your Carbon Footprint

Environment, Science

Whether you lean left, right, or somewhere in between, environmental issues are, and deserve to be, nonpartisan. Sadly, evidence backed up by science often evolves into heated political arguments, leaving everyone far too angry to focus on what truly matters: our planet.

I’m not here to preach my position to anyone. If you’d like to me to share my thoughts on topics like hydraulic fracturing, coral bleaching, the agricultural industry, and climate change as a whole, I’m more than happy to engage in conversation, but for now, I’d like to use this platform to offer some simple solutions to a serious problem.

In this country in particular, people tend to be pretty wasteful. This waste, whether we like to admit it or not, is detrimental to the health of our planet. The bigger our carbon footprints are, the more damage we cause. By definition, a carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person, organization, or location at a given time. The average person in the U.S. produces roughly 20 metric tons of carbon pollution annually, battling China for the highest amount of carbon waste in the world. That’s nothing to be proud of. (To calculate your carbon footprint, click here.)

Image result for carbon footprint infographic

Stanford Kay

So below you’ll find a list of easy ways to conserve more, waste less, and reduce the size of your own carbon footprint. As the numbers demonstrate, living a more sustainable, eco-friendly life is in everyone’s best interest.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This mantra can be used in your daily life if you really start questioning your actionsDoes the water really need to be running while you brush your teeth? Why did you just throw away three plastic water bottles, when you could be using a reusable bottle? Question the resources you’re using every day and see how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle them. Learn more here.

Eat less meat

While going vegetarian or even vegan is wonderful for the environment, I’d be foolish to think I could convince you all to do this. Eating less meat though, is entirely possible and hugely beneficial. Beef consumption is actually among the highest producers of carbon emissions overall, so even switching from beef to chicken is a massive step in the right direction. Skeptical? Check out this publication from the Climate Institute, or take a look at National Geographic’s “Before the Flood.” 

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The Campus Kitchens Project

Utilize public transit

Transportation is another huge contributor to carbon emissions, so utilizing carpools, buses, subways, trains, etc., will not only clear up traffic congestion, but will also keep the streets clean of pollution.  If you do own a car, consider a hybrid or electric option. Click here to read U.S. News’ list for best hybrid and electric cars.


Instead of throwing your food scraps in the trash, why not compost them? Decaying fruit and vegetable produce is perfect for natural fertilizer, and there are many ways to do your part in this process. (Hint: You don’t need to be a farmer or own a farm to compost!) To learn about compost bins, drop off sites, and compost do’s and don’t’s, check out the links below:

Support renewable energy

Solar is in right now, and while the upfront costs seem, well, costly, those funds come back around in the long run. It’s easy to shut the door on the salesperson who’s talking about something new and confusing, but take that opportunity to learn about renewable energy and its offerings. It may just be for you. Check out the pros and cons of solar below:

Learn more about climate change

The earth and our environment are undeniably complex. The issues we face today, tomorrow, and in our future are often times hard to grasp and frankly terrifying. Education gives power to the people and creates a platform for critical thinking and problem solving. This doesn’t mean you need to become a scientist, but you can share your knowledge with others and do your part to create a more sustainable future. If you don’t believe in me, or in climate change, how about NASA? 

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Use your voice 

Tons of environmental organizations are out there on the front lines making change. Engage, sign petitions, protest, donate, find involvement in any way possible. (And yes, while climate change should not be a partisan issue, sometimes it becomes one. It’s important to stand up for science and truth when necessary.) There is always something you can do. Here are a list of the organizations I frequently support and recommend:

To see how these organizations use funds, check out Charity Navigator.

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The Huffington Post

I hope you’ll consider making some of the above changes if you haven’t already. We need to take responsibility for our actions, no matter how small they may seem. Only then will we see a sustainable future. It’s not too late to make a change.

“The Earth does not belong to man — man belongs to the Earth.” — Chief Seattle