Hi Wolfpack, it’s our favorite month of the year, and we can’t wait to dive in with you. June is World Ocean Month, a month dedicated to celebrating our ocean, its vitality to human life and how we can take steps to better protect it. As the impacts of climate change worsen, so does its impact on our ocean ecosystems. But what most people may not know is how our ocean is critically tied to the climate crisis. In this week’s Trash Talk, we’re exploring how the climate crisis not only impacts our ocean, but how this beautiful ecosystem can help us combat its impacts. We need the ocean, and our ocean needs us.
Our Blue World
The Earth is thirsty for the ocean, so much so it covers 70% of her surface. It generates over 50% of the world’s oxygen, often referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’, provides food for over ½ the global population, water for us all to drink, and serves us in millions of other invisible ways. Our oceans regulate weather and climate patterns by transporting heated waters to the poles, and cold water back to equatorial regions — maintaining the balance of our entire climate system.
The ocean is also the world’s greatest carbon sink, absorbing over 25% of atmospheric CO2 emissions, which is critical in reducing our global greenhouse gas emissions and lessening overall climate change. Our marine ecosystems also account for 80% of the earth’s biodiversity, which in turn promotes a healthy environment. Coral reefs, which take up less than 0.1% of the ocean’s surface, account for 25% of all marine biodiversity, provide barriers that reduce storm impacts and create livelihoods of tourism around the world.
As the climate warms, it brings threats to the stability of our ocean’s in multiple ways. Even as the ocean proves time and again to be resilient, absorbing over 90% of the excess heat generated by rising emissions, it cannot withstand this for much longer.
Climate Change & The Ocean
I’m sure by now you concur with us that climate change is a fashion emergency. And global scientists agree, our reliance on fossil fuels have released unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, causing cascading impacts across our globe. The changing climate impacts every sphere of life, especially the ocean, which is central to regulating our climate.
The ocean itself, which absorbs excess atmospheric heat, has warmed at a rate of 0.14° F per decade, between 1901 and 2020. The resulting expansion of water due to rising temperatures, coupled with the melting of glaciers and sea ice, has generated rising sea levels all over the globe. These threaten low-lying coastal communities all over the world, and the livelihoods of the nearly 2 billion people who live in coastal metropolitan areas. Places like Florida and Manhattan are projected to shrink significantly, and beautiful Islands such as the Maldives predicted to vanish entirely.
Coral reefs are also suffering from increased temperatures, and acidification and bleaching events have occurred significantly over the past 30 years. The UN has projected that the reefs, which help protect coastlines from storms and erosion, could disappear entirely by the end of the century if warming trends continue. The cascading effects mean threatening all marine ecosystems that depend on the reefs and decreased protections from storms and severe weather events – all of which are projected to increase. This further impacts over 3.3 billion people that depend on fish for protein, and decreases our ability to provide sustenance to our growing population in the future.
This isn’t what we meant when we said hot girl summer. All in all, the ocean cannot function if the climate continues down this trajectory. As a critical resource, we must increase protections and help the ocean mitigate our warming planet.
Make Waves Of Change
Wolfpack, it is still possible to show up for the ocean in so many different ways, and work towards creating true change for the health of our planet.
For one – reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will put less pressure on the ocean to sequester excess carbon, reduce the further increase of ocean temperatures, sea level rise, and loss of biodiversity. We are certified Climate Neutral, meaning we offset our emissions and invest in carbon offset projects that work to ease this burden.
Protecting our oceans also means reducing direct pollution, especially considering it is the second most cumulative impact on ocean health – and over 80% of it is plastic. From single use plastics like food wrappers to microplastics from washing our clothes, our waters are infested with the consequences of human consumption. Once plastic enters the ocean it doesn’t decompose, and breaks down into microplastics – all of which infect ecosystems and are ingested by marine life, detrimental to ocean and human health. It’s incredibly important to us to address plastic pollution. That’s why for every order Wolven removes 1lb of ocean-bound plastic through our partnership with CleanHub.
We directly support an organization called COMPED, and their clean-up projects in Cambodia as they work to collect plastic waste from water sources and canals in the three major cities, as well as one of the most ocean-polluting rivers in the world – the Mekong. We’re proud of what we do but we know that there is a long journey ahead to a healthier ocean and planet.So stay tuned wolfpack - this year we are also taking action to protect our ocean by attending Capital Hill World Ocean Week. Our Wolven team will be heading to Capitol Hill to discuss important issues and solutions surrounding the health of our ocean and communities, and we’ll be reporting back on what we learn. To learn more visit: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/mar23/chow-2023.html