Taking Action this World Oceans Month
Combat Climate Change Today
This is the Save Our Happy Place weekly climate action newsletter making it easy for you to help protect the places you love from climate change. Subscribe to get access to simple & effective climate actions, sustainability, and eco-friendly lifestyle tips to make helping the planet easy.
To guide us through World Ocean Month, please welcome guest writer and activist Kevin Travis - an SOHP community member, climate activist, and Science Officer at California Ocean Science Trust. Over the course of the month, we’ll be covering both personal and systemic actions you can take to help save a happy place spanning 70% of the world. Kevin’s passion, knowledge, and dedication to protecting our oceans as means to make a climate impact are so inspiring. I gained so much from this edition and hope you do too.
How do the oceans help mitigate climate change?
The ocean can be considered as a major regulator of Earth’s climate and plays a central role in mitigating climate change impacts. It’s estimated that over 90% of the heat already added to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities has already been absorbed by our oceans. Covering most of the Earth’s surface, the ocean also serves as a “carbon sink” pulling CO2 directly out of the atmosphere, minimizing its effects. Without the oceans, the rate of climate change would be far more extreme than what we are witnessing today. So next time you find yourself oceanside this Summer (maybe in your own Happy Place), always take a moment to appreciate the immense power of our mighty oceans.
What are the main issues facing the ocean?
With great responsibility comes great sacrifice in the face of climate change. The rate at which humans have been releasing CO2 into the atmosphere far exceeds the ability of our oceans to regulate. Excess heat has resulted in a measurable increase in water temperatures globally, especially at the Earth’s poles. This leads to melting glaciers and expanding water volumes causing a rise in sea levels. This temperature shift alters the natural mixing and circulating of water, changing nutrient and oxygen availability for ocean life. And if we needed yet another reason for humans to transition away from fossil fuels, ocean acidification could be at the top of the list. As more and more CO2 becomes absorbed by our oceans, the pH decreases making it far too acidic for marine ecosystems to thrive. Other human activities can impact our oceans as well and can even exacerbate these climate impacts. This includes marine pollution (e.g. oil spills), the small but big problem of microplastics, decades of overfishing, and other harmful ocean uses.
What impacts are these issues having?
For millennia, the oceans have served as a critical source for food, economic security, cultural and spiritual connection, and many other dimensions of human life. With greater numbers of people migrating to coastal cities, our connection to the ocean has never been more central to our livelihoods. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that the climate issues facing our oceans don’t stop at the high tideline. Rising sea levels will result in more frequent and intense flooding and erosion of our coastal communities, threatening our homes and infrastructure. Warming ocean waters are already causing marine life to migrate poleward, impacting ecosystem health and global fisheries. And most eminently, these climate-related issues are resulting in a drastic loss of ocean biodiversity. We must act now to preserve the ocean’s health and our connection to it.
Take Action for the Ocean
Personal Steps You Can Take to Help Save the Seas
VOTE. :) As we continue to learn more and more about the role of the ocean as a regulator and as a solution to climate change, it is more important than ever that people do what they can to preserve the health of our oceans. Collective individual action can bring a spotlight to major ocean issues and indicate to those in power that we are engaged on the topics that matter most.
Personal actions can include ensuring that your seafood is sustainably sourced (read more at Seafood Watch) or purchasing food from sustainable aquaculture farms, such as the seaweed aquaculture movement [more on this here].
You can find local organizations or nonprofits that are engaged in ocean-related conservation efforts and donate to their work or volunteer your time.
Most importantly, we must transition away from gas appliances and fossil fuel transportation by choosing electric when we can.
Meet Kevin Travis
Science Officer at California Ocean Science Trust
Where is your happy place?
Spending time out on the ocean, whether on a boat, kayaking, or just floating in the waves.
What inspired you to become a part of the climate movement?
As I was finishing up my graduate degree, I realized I wanted a career more directly involved with the application or communication of science. This was also a time in our country when science wasn't always being effectively communicated or respected in policy decisions. So, I made a pivot into the field science-policy, where I now use my education towards translating science into policy guidance for decision-makers across California.
What is one thing you recommend someone do to protect the oceans/marine life from climate change?
It's difficult to pick just one thing! At the end of the day, it is more important than ever to use your voice and vote to elect representatives who will act on the climate crisis and transition us away from fossil fuels. And if you live on the coast (or when visiting), look up what local or regional organizations are working to restore coastal habitats in that area, and if you can, support their work!
How can others get involved with or work in the climate space?
The breadth of challenges we face with the climate crisis will require a large and diverse community working together to make a difference. To find your own meaningful way to get involved, I love the "Climate Action Venn Diagram" approach from marine biologist and policy expert Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Check it out!
Tell us about your work at the California Ocean Science Trust.
CA Ocean Science Trust is considered a 'boundary organization' that works to strengthen the connection between cutting-edge scientific research and sound ocean management in California. As a Science Officer, I support the delivery of relevant, timely, and accessible scientific information to policymakers on issues facing our ocean and coastal communities. I also work on initiatives to improve equity and inclusivity throughout California's scientific community. It is a dynamic and sometimes challenging job, but I find working in science policy extremely rewarding.
Some Rays of Sunshine
The Headlines We’re Happy to See
California releases first-in-nation Microplastic Strategy for addressing microplastic pollution. - Read More
The Biden administration canceled proposed offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet. - Read More
Hawaii bans shark fishing in state waters. - Read More
Australia pledges A$1bn to improve the water quality of the Great Barrer Reef. - Read More
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