Dr Joanne Porter, Orkney Campus
We can all play a role towards reaching net zero
We have incredible natural resources, which we depend on more than we realise. We must stop abusing these resources.
My vision for the future is that we work together as a global community to reach Net Zero Carbon and to halt the loss of biodiversity on our planet. We have incredible natural resources, which we depend on more than we realise. We must stop abusing these resources, and make careful considered decisions regarding the consequences of our actions, which may cause damage to the resources we have.
My current research focusses firstly on the environmental management of oil and gas decommissioning through a prestigious INSITE 2 funded project called 'Connectivity of Hard Substrate Assemblages in the North Sea'.
In this project the team is looking at how the geographical distribution of marine species may change as oil and gas infrastructures are removed from the environment and new structures for offshore wind farms are added. How will these changes affect the connectivity of larvae across their distributions? Will new structures be used by non-native species as stepping stones into new territory? Where is this likely to happen and what will be the consequence?
My second strand of research focusses on 'blue carbon'. This is carbon that is cycled and stored in marine systems. Commissioned by the Scottish Government, I coordinated a team of scientists based in Scotland to complete a blue carbon audit of Orkney waters, which was published in January 2020.
This audit provided an estimate that there is 67 million tonnes of carbon currently stored in coastal habitats around Orkney, up to the 12 nautical mile limit around the Islands. In future it will be important to ensure that these significant stores of carbon are not released through anthropogenic actions. Habitats such as maerl beds and flame beds, incorporated into this audit also serve as significant biodiversity hotspots.
Reaching net zero
It is my strong belief that we can all play a role towards reaching net zero carbon emissions, we can take personal actions to reduce the carbon emissions of our own activities. We can educate ourselves, our families and our friends on carbon literacy, and we can work in our communities and workplaces, to ensure that our actions do not damage the stores of carbon that we have.
We can also work to restore habitats where damage has already happened or is ongoing. We can work with organisations to ensure that decommissioning of the fossil fuel burning proceeds in and renewable energy options are brought online in ways which benefit rather than causes damages our seabed habitats.