U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator joins Chennai school students in ocean health activity

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan, who is in Chennai for the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Sustainability, engaged with high school students monitoring water conditions in the Bay of Bengal followed by a shore walk at Elliot’s Beach in the city on Thursday, July 27.

Administrator Regan, along with students, performed an experiment to measure temperature and salinity of sea water samples, an activity conducted as part of “Ocean Matters,” an ongoing citizen science project organized by the U.S. Consulate General Chennai in partnership with The Energy
and Resources Institute (TERI) to build capacity of students to measure and monitor ocean health parameters.

EPA Administrator Regan said, “Young people have always been at the forefront of social movements and the environmental movement is no exception.  I was honoured to join students in Chennai today to discuss the impacts of climate change and their efforts to protect our oceans. The United States is committed to tackling the climate crisis and ensuring a just transition, working together with our international partners to deliver a healthier planet for all.”

Later, Administrator Regan joined the participants for a
shore walk along the beach to observe and understand how climate change affects the coast and its inhabitants. During the walk, students used sketching to journal the coastal habitat. Administrator Regan also discussed with the participants the challenges that coastal and island communities face, including ocean warming, rising sea-levels, and ocean acidification, loss of fish stocks, and harm to marine species.

Jennifer Bullock, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General Chennai, said, “Climate and oceans are intrinsically interlinked; factors affecting the oceans – pollution, rise in temperature, ocean acidification, erosion, and overfishing – also affect rainfall, create extreme weather conditions, habitat destruction, and coastal erosion. Safeguarding the oceans and coasts helps build resilience to mitigate climate risks such as overflooding, cyclonic surges, and intrusion of sea water into land. Protecting the climate-ocean cycles also helps predictable monsoon and in turn impact food security, sustainable water management, and health. The ‘Ocean Matters’ project helps build capacity of youth to predict ocean risks, act, and build resilience.”

Steffi John, Education Officer, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, who facilitated the shore walk, said, “Immediate action is needed to prepare for climate change, protect at-risk coastal areas, and mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal communities. Today’s observation and journaling of beach activity helped these students learn about climate change and coastal ecosystems and presented them an interesting way to document this pressing global issue.”

Saltanat M Kazi, Fellow, TERI and Project In-charge, Ocean Matters, said, “The partnership of TERI and U.S. Consulate General Chennai will help reach students and teachers from 200 schools in Chennai, Puducherry, Kochi, Mumbai, Mangaluru, and Marmugao
and provide them with an opportunity to learn more about science and environment using experiments.” She added, “The project will also help the students develop a sense of ownership and responsibility to safeguard oceanic health.”