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 warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
Yet the largest factor in our climate cycle isn’t on the COP21 agenda: the ocean.
The ocean is a massive carbon sink that has absorbed nearly half of all human-produced CO2 since the Industrial Revolution. Climate experts warn that the ocean’s ability to absorb so much CO2 may soon hit a tipping point, with the ocean becoming saturated and thus unable to keep this greenhouse gas from rapidly accumulating in the atmosphere, acidifying the sea and throwing climate change into overdrive.
But there is hope. Ocean and coastal ecosystems that are allowed to remain intact and healthy sequester vast amounts of carbon. Safeguarding these stores of “blue carbon” by establishing a global network of marine protected areas—like natural parks in the ocean—would directly enhance the ability of our planet to be resilient in the face of climate change.
As legendary oceanographer and Mission Blue founder Dr. Sylvia Earle says, now is the time to act:
“Quite simply, no ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the ocean, there would be no climate to discuss, nor anyone around to debate the issues. We have to represent those who are not at the table. We must give the ocean a voice!”
Join Mission Blue and make a pledge to help on TakePart.com:
I pledge to educate myself and others about how the ocean regulates climate and weather and spread awareness about the need to develop an international climate plan that includes protecting carbon stores in the ocean. By establishing a global network of marine protected areas—“Hope Spots” that would safeguard vital ocean ecosystems and the blue carbon within them—such a plan could help stabilize climate change and restore the health of the ocean for generations to come. #OceanForClimate