Uniting Ocean and Earth for Climate Action

This winter, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris will feature one of the largest gatherings of world leaders to ever address global warming. The stage is set for all United Nations member states to come together and create an international agreement on the climate with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C. In anticipation of this opportunity, President Barack Obama announced an action plan to combat climate change in June. Also this summer, Pope Francis demonstrated a masterful understanding of the science behind global warming and urged Catholics to take immediate action to combat greenhouse gas emissions in his recently released encyclical. Even China, the world’s heaviest polluter, has committed to significantly reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Yet the largest factor in our climate cycle isn’t on the COP21 agenda: the ocean.

Mission Blue founder and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle highlighted the irony of overlooking the ocean in climate negotiations in her 2014 Huffington Post op-ed:

Disregard for the ocean as the primary driver of climate and weather might be forgiven 50 years ago, but now we know: The living ocean governs planetary chemistry; regulates temperature; generates most of the oxygen in the sea and atmosphere; powers the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles; and holds 97 percent of Earth’s water and 97 percent of the biosphere. Quite simply, no ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the ocean, there would be no climate to discuss or anyone around to debate the issues.

She continued by noting that when one looks back on Earth—our blue planet—from space, the role of the ocean in regulating climate is quite obvious. The ocean covers over 70 percent of our planet’s surface and sends water vapor into our atmosphere, —> Read More