U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator joins Chennai School Students in Ocean Health Activity, Reiterates U.S. Commitment to Lead Climate

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan with high school students monitoring water conditions in the Bay of Bengal followed by a shore walk at Elliot’s Beach.

Chennai, July 27:  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 honored 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.”

Photo caption 1:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan with school students during an ocean health activity at Elliot’s Beach in Chennai, Thursday, July 27.

Photo caption 2: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan and school students at a shore walk at Elliot’s Beach in Chennai, Thursday, July 27.

About “Ocean Matters”: 

Launched in 2022, “Ocean Matters” aims to create awareness about ocean health and climate action among youth through scientific and evidence-based methods of sampling, testing, data collection, documentation, and research.

Through a train-the-trainer basis, this project provided scientific testing protocols and training developed by the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE), an international science program supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of State.  Over 200 teachers and 1,000 students along the India’s West Coast have been trained so far.

A second component of “Ocean Matters” includes testing the presence of microplastics using a protocol developed by an international team of scientists.  It is being implemented in schools in Chennai, Puducherry, and Kochi.  To participate in “Ocean Matters,” interested high schools may email oceanmatters2022@gmail.com

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