The Crisis in our Ocean and our Climate are Inextricably Linked; and We Are Losing Both
Global climate disruption is well underway and the oceans have been the most impacted system to date.
Our climate and our ocean will continue to destabilize together as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels rise, and as the carbon and heat storage functions of oceans and other ecosystems are exceeded, which will lead to ‘positive’ feedback for further disruption.
To have a serious chance of success at arresting and ultimately reversing climate disruption, and thereby restore the ocean, the ocean-climate agenda must be comprehensive, with three main focal areas that all need significantly increased intellectual, material and financial investment.
We desperately need a new agenda:
An Ocean-Climate Restoration Agenda
The Ocean-Climate Nexus
Oceans have have borne the brunt of the damages to date from climate disruption, and shielded humanity from far worse impacts. Only reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the heat and direct CO2 deposition they cause can ultimately reverse the ocean crisis and the climate crisis. Other direct interventions in the ocean are also needed to slow the continuing damage.
At the same time, the oceans have been vastly undervalued and underutilized in the race to arrest and ultimately reverse climate disruption. .
We need an as-yet unwritten 'systems' survival plan for the Ocean if we are to arrest climate destabilization.
The oceans have literally saved the terrestrial world so far, absorbing some 90% of all the excess heat caused by our greenhouse gas pollution. Without oceans the earth’s current surface temperatures would be unlivable. But the Ocean has thermal limits that are dangerous to surpass.
Oceans have also absorbed a significant portion (some 30%) of the carbon dioxide pollution we have put in the atmosphere, and as a result are becoming more acidic. There are limits here as well that require more direct action.