Dive into these articles, videos, quizzes, podcasts, and more to learn climate science basics, understand the urgent issues facing coastal and marine ecosystems, and gain tools to practice creative communication for our blue planet.
We Are All Connected to the Ocean
Earth is a blue planet, with oceans covering more than 70% of its surface.
While we may not live near an ocean or even ever visit it, we are connected to the ocean through the air we breathe and the water we drink. From food and economies to recreation and culture, our oceans sustain, nourish, and support human life. It’s critical for all of us to take care of the ocean that takes care of us all.
By building an awareness of how our actions on land directly impact life below the surface, we can all be caretakers and advocates for a healthy, living ocean no matter how far from the coast we may live.
“You may never see the ocean. You may never touch the ocean. But the ocean touches you every day.”
Oceans & Climate 101
Check out these videos and articles for some background information on the science and history of the climate crisis.
You don’t need to be a climate scientist to be able to talk about the issues, but we encourage you to learn the basics of global warming and the human-caused climate crisis to help you communicate creatively and effectively in your Ocean Awareness Contest submission.
A CHANGING OCEAN
Our oceans play a central role in regulating global climate, and global ocean systems largely influence life on land, even hundreds of miles from a coastline.
But since the start of the Industrial Revolution about 200 years ago, oceans have served as the largest carbon sink on the planet, absorbing the carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels and soaking up 90% of the extra heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. This build-up of energy and heat from carbon emissions is already altering the chemistry of the ocean and changing ocean currents, disrupting ocean ecosystems, and threatening and displacing coastal communities with rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Combined with the impacts from pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction, no ocean ecosystem remains untouched by human activities.
But the ocean itself is a climate solution. Healthy ocean ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes not only capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide, but living shorelines play a critical role in protecting coastal communities from extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change. Marine-based renewable energy, such as wind, wave, and tidal power, are sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. Restoring and protecting ocean ecosystems, and investing in ocean-based solutions, are critical in the global movement for climate action.
Our blue planet needs our awareness and protection now more than ever. Learn more about what the climate crisis means for our oceans, and for all of us:
- A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels
- Global coastal wetlands need to move inland in fight against climate change
- Rising sea levels could swamp major cities and displace almost 200 million people, scientists say
- The country disappearing under rising tides
- Surging Seas: Sea level rise analysis & mapping tools
- I Traveled to the Arctic to Witness Climate Disaster Firsthand
- Rising seas give island nation a stark choice: relocate or elevate
- National Climate Assessment: Tribes and Indigenous Peoples
- “Climate apartheid” to push 120 million into poverty by 2030, UN says
- Mental health at the heart of the climate crisis
- Their Islands Are Being Eroded. So Are Their Human Rights, They Say.
- As Himalayas Warm, Nepal’s Climate Migrants Struggle to Survive
Solutions & Opportunities: Hope in Action
The climate crisis won’t be solved overnight, but there are many solutions, innovations, and movements to stop global warming and transform our planet for the better.
We created this list* to uplift examples of progress, research, and solutions already in action, but don’t stop here! Explore what is being done, think critically about what needs development, and imagine what else is possible.
*This list is not exhaustive by any means. The articles and views expressed within do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs staff.
“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.”
ON CLIMATE HOPE
Hope is grounded in personally and collectively remembering and restoring a respectful relationship with this blue planet and all of its inhabitants, human and non-human. Hope is a point of origin, an ongoing practice, and an outcome. Hope does not rely solely on optimism; being hopeful does not mean you cannot also feel concern, confusion, frustration, or despair. We invite multiple definitions, interpretations, and experiences of hope. We believe the term is inclusive, visionary, adaptable, and active.
If you don’t think “climate” and “hope” should be in the same sentence, we understand! But we also invite you to check out these pieces about the role of hope in the climate crisis:
“To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
FEATURED SOLUTIONS, BY TOPIC
- Harnessing wave energy to light up coastal communities
- Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Fights Back With Clean Energy
- Renewable Energy Powers Up Costa Rica
- A 100% renewable grid isn’t just feasible, it’s in the works in Europe
- Giant batteries and cheap solar power are shoving fossil fuels off the grid
- Changing energy use in rural Africa with power from solar, clean stoves…and women
- Fighting for Ocean Justice
- Cultural preservation and climate justice
- How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming
- Innovative solutions to the plight of climate migrants
- What Indigenous Rights Have to Do With Fighting Climate Change
- Solutions exist to the crises of global warming and the collapse of nature: We just have to listen
- The Fight for Climate Justice Requires a New Narrative
- For Lasting Climate Change Solutions, It’s Time to Listen to Young People of Color
- Paris Climate Agreement: Everything You Need to Know
- Pay attention to the growing wave of climate change lawsuits
- A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- I’m Voting For The First Time In 2020. This Has To Be The Climate Change Election.
- New Law Would Create Roadmap to Reach Net Zero Emissions by 2050
- Climate Emergency Declarations: How Cities Are Leading The Charge
- Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns
- Climate change: Is an economic overhaul needed?
- Capitalism vs. the Climate
- Vast subsidies keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat should be put to better use
- The world’s richest institutions invest in fossil fuels. Activists are changing that.
- Pricing the Planet
- Designers vs. Climate Change
- BIG unveils Oceanix City concept for floating villages that can withstand hurricanes
- Architectural history offers clues to low-carbon relief from the heat
- How plants and animals are teaching scientists to fight climate change
- The Future of Infrastructure
- Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience
- A Roadmap to Low-Carbon Transportation
- Generating Power from the Roads
- For cities, bike networks are a free-wheeling climate solution
- Mayors tell the Senate that transit, biking, and walking are climate change solutions
- Low-carbon Urban Transport Boosts Social and Economic Development
- Charging Up Electric Vehicles
- Barcelona’s car-free ‘superblocks’ could save hundreds of lives
- Blue Carbon
- Fighting Rising Tides, Coastal Towns Turn To Humble Oysters To Save Their Land And Their Culture
- Living shorelines: How salt marshes help protect coastlines
- Startup called Coral Vita wants to protect corals by farming them
- A scientific breakthrough at the Florida Aquarium could save America’s ‘Great Barrier Reef’
- Mangroves and climate change
- Natural Climate Solutions
- One Whale Is Worth Thousands of Trees in Climate Fight, New Report Says
- Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered
- Soil and Seaweed: Farming Our Way to a Climate Solution
- Can Soil Help Combat Climate Change?
- How Crowdsourcing Seeds Can Help Farmers Adapt to Climate Change
- Boston’s Eastie Farm Builds Community and Resilience on the Front Lines of Climate Change
QUIZZES: MEASURE YOUR CLIMATE KNOWLEDGE
- CoolClimate Footprint Calculator
- Ecological Footprint Quiz
- Climate Change Solutions Quiz
- How Does Your Diet Contribute to Climate Change?
- “The climate crisis is an oceans crisis”: This episode of The Ezra Klein Show features Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist and ocean justice advocate, who explains how the ocean shapes our lives and must be at the center of climate solutions.
- No Place Like Home: A podcast that gets to the heart of climate change through personal stories
- Think 100%: Hip Hop Caucus’ multimedia platform that highlights solutions to climate change and environmental injustices
- Mothers of Invention: A podcast on feminist climate change solutions from (mostly) women around the world
- Terrestrial: Stories about people making personal choices in the face of environmental change
- Emergence Magazine: A quarterly online publication exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. The podcast features exclusive interviews, narrated essays, stories and more.
- Climate Cast: MPR News meteorologist Paul Huttner with the latest research on our changing climate
- Drilled: An investigative podcast about the propaganda campaign of the century — the creation of climate denial
- Hot Take: An intersectional, critical, but constructive look at climate coverage—with the ultimate goal of making the conversation about climate change more productive, powerful, and inclusive.
- Warm Regards: A podcast about the warming planet
- Citizens Climate Radio: A podcast for climate advocates
- The Biggest Story in the World: Behind the scenes with The Guardian as they embark on a global climate change campaign
Resources on Eco-Anxiety
Fighting climate change can feel scary, overwhelming, and depressing at times—or all the time. It is normal, and important, to feel grief at the loss of ecosystems or species. That grief is a reminder of our love for this living blue planet.
Create from that place of feeling. We believe that art-making is a powerful tool to help you explore, experience, and process your deepest responses to what’s going on in the world, and our global Ocean Awareness Contest is a community centered around collective expression. We’re all in this together 💪
“Transform yourself to transform the world.”
—GRACE LEE BOGGS
Just as a wave is made up of many drops of water, movements for change emerge from individuals coming together through collective imagination and action.
Each of us can make a difference through our daily actions, and by modeling ocean-conscious behaviors, we inspire those around us to get involved, too. Here are some things that you–yes, you!–can do to take action:
Talk About Climate Change
It’s a simple, but powerful, action. Research suggests that what you hear from friends, family, colleagues, or neighbors influences your attitudes or beliefs about climate change. This interpersonal conversation not only raises awareness, but makes it more likely for people to get involved in the issue.
Advocate for Climate Policy
Call or write letters to local, regional, and national officials and let them know that climate action is important to you. Share stories about how climate change affects you personally, and express the urgency of the issue. Vote if you can, or encourage friends and family to vote with the ocean and environment in mind.
Whether you start a sustainability group at school, host a climate education event, or volunteer with a local nonprofit, there are many ways to create community around climate solutions.
Eat a Low-Carbon Diet
About 33% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agricultural practices, land use changes, and deforestation. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains, and ships combined, so you can make a big difference by reducing your consumption of red meat and eating more local, organic, plant-based meals. Start with “Meatless Mondays” and share recipes with friends!
Change How You Move
Almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. comes from transportation. Decrease your personal carbon footprint by walking, biking, and using mass transit whenever possible, or carpool with your friends and neighbors.
Solid waste landfills are the single largest man-made source of methane (a greenhouse gas) in the U.S. Buy minimally packaged goods and avoid single-use plastics, which require a lot of energy to produce and ship. Buy locally produced items when possible. Recycle when possible; reuse or re-purpose items to divert waste from your local landfill. Participate in or help create a composting program.
Support Renewable Energy
Look into whether your local utilities supplier offers a green power option, and talk to your parents about making the switch.
If you are able, consider contributing your time, skills, or funds to a local organization focused on climate action, environmental restoration, or social justice.
Celebrate & Enjoy Nature
Spending time outdoors connects us to what we love, gives us energy to keep working, and gets our creative juices flowing!
Check out the work of these organizations and movements leading the way on climate justice and ocean conservation. Find or start a local chapter in your community: