Senator Gardner: We Need Ocean Climate Action Now!
On February 21, the Inland Ocean Coalition requested that Senator Gardner host an oversight hearing on the steps needed to implement an ocean climate action agenda. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather, Senator Gardner is uniquely positioned to ensure that our ocean continues to thrive in the face of a changing climate and provide us with the services that are critical to life on Earth.
Our letter to Senator Gardner is below - please call and/or email his office and urge him to take ocean climate action now! More details below.
Dear Senator Gardner:
We are writing to respectfully request that, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather, you convene a hearing on the need for the United States to adopt an ocean climate action agenda.
Our ocean is one of the most valuable assets we have to combat climate change, and it is under siege. Recent scientific reports demonstrate the urgency of the climate crisis, particularly with respect to the ocean
- In January, NOAA and NASA announced that 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, confirming that 2010-2019 was the hottest decade;
- A study, published in January, in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences revealed that 2019 was the hottest year on record for our oceans;
- And last September, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a comprehensive report showing that the ocean is becoming warmer, more acidic, and deprived of oxygen, making it less hospitable to marine wildlife and the many species of fish that inhabit it.
Based in Colorado, the Inland Ocean Coalition knows that no matter where you live in the United States, the ocean still touches our lives: supplying our food and oxygen, supporting our coastal economies, and regulating our weather and climate. Without a healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet.
Yet, climate change jeopardizes the health of the ocean and everything it does for us. As the ocean continues to absorb roughly 30% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions as well as 90% of the heat that results from those emissions, we are seeing a warmer ocean with less oxygen. We must take care of the ocean now if we want to count on it in the fight against climate change in the future.
Some are calling 2020 a “Super Year for the Ocean” with major opportunities throughout the year for world leaders to take action on climate change that will protect the ocean and the planet: The UN Ocean Conference, the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the Our Ocean conference, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and COP26.
We need the U.S. Congress to step up and join the efforts. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather, you are in a critical position in the Senate to ensure that our ocean continues to thrive and provide us with the services that are critical to life on Earth.
That is why we respectfully request that you host a Subcommittee oversight hearing on the steps needed to implement an ocean climate action agenda.
An ocean climate action agenda has three key components:
- Reduce Greenhouse Gases: Substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions—especially carbon dioxide—which leads to ocean warming and drives ocean acidification.
- Restore "Blue Carbon" Ecosystems
Protect the ocean’s natural ability to store carbon by conserving and restoring “blue carbon” ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass beds, and salt marshes.
- Increase Ocean Resilience: Protect at least 30% of the ocean for marine wildlife, promoting sustainable fisheries, restoring important ocean habitats like coral reefs, and reducing ocean pollution. This means working to ensure we have sustainably managed fisheries, strong marine protected areas, reduced plastic pollution, and protection from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Senator Gardner, we desperately need your leadership in Congress to promote the adoption of an ocean climate action agenda. It’s not too late. We still have a choice about the kind of future we leave our children—in Colorado and around the world. Please contact us with your thoughts and questions. We would be delighted to work with your staff to suggest expert witnesses and further refine the hearing topics and discussions.
Vicki Nichols Goldstein
Inland Ocean Coalition