Good news: Researcher Michael Lomas believes the oceans may be able to find a way to heal themselves. *MCT photo
Good news: Researcher Michael Lomas believes the oceans may be able to find a way to heal themselves. *MCT photo
Creative and intellectual thought was abuzz at this weekend’s TEDxBermuda conference. Professors, lawyers, scientists and activists mixed with artists, musicians and poets in the first conference of its kind on the island. Ted is a non-profit organization that began in 1984 dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. Ted stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and experts in each field make presentations and answer questions from a live audience which are then broadcast for free on the Internet. Organizer John Narraway told us that he planned to organize a second conference in October and hinted that they could become a regular fixture on the island’s community calendar. Sarah Lagan and Amanda Dale attended the conference and reported on the numerous speakers.

Michael Lomas, a senior research scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), spoke about ocean acidification due to global warming but said the oceans may find a way to heal themselves.

“Unlike evolution, which tries to be forward moving, a planet or an ocean can’t go in one direction. That’s an abstract process,” said Dr. Lomas.

“CO2 in our atmosphere is accumulating and that is having an impact on the planet as a whole.”

But he added: “There are positive things which can affect ocean acidification.”

These included photosynthetic plants, which take up CO2 and make oxygen.

“The ocean to some degree can counter ocean acidification,” said Dr. Lomas.

The BIOS ‘time series’ studies over the past 20 years may have revealed more CO2 in the ocean, but there were also encouraging signs that the oceans’ biological carbon pump “is countering ocean acidification”.

“It will offset something,” said Dr. Lomas.

“The oceans have to have a return process and they have that built in.

“We need to find ways to reduce our carbon emissions but also need to study the natural eco-systems, to see how they are responding.

“We need to understand how these marine systems function and respond to studies, because they may already have figured it out while we sit here scratching our heads.”

TEDxBermuda 2011