Climate Change Takes Over Capitol Hill Ocean Week

Why I’m excited for this year’s Ocean X Climate-themed Capitol Hill Ocean Week

It’s almost that time of year again, when the ocean community converges in Washington, DC, for Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW). Next week, scientists, policymakers, advocates and business leaders will come together to learn from each other, celebrate ocean science and conservation successes, and collaborate on how to tackle the many challenges and threats our ocean continues to face. 

While this isn’t my first CHOW, this is the first year I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on the Advisory Committee. I signed up for this role for two reasons. First, I wanted to help bring together a more diverse range of topics, experts and perspectives than ever before. Second, the theme of this year’s CHOW is Ocean X Climate, which pretty much sums up my career, so it felt like a natural fit. 

The ocean is responsible for providing us with a livable climate. But our continued burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change, which is harming the ocean and all of Earth’s systems that we depend on. It’s more important now than ever that we focus on this ocean-climate connection and make sure that our policymakers hear the whole ocean community when we say we need climate action for the sake of the ocean and all of us who rely on it.

One the many reasons I enjoy CHOW is that it brings together not just advocates or scientists, but all ocean lovers. I’m really excited this year to learn from experts in fields I don’t know as much about and to meet and talk with people from across the country who are working on such a wide range of exciting and necessary ocean conservation and climate change projects.

Ocean conservation and climate action aren’t mutually exclusive. In the past, people have thought of the ocean as just a victim of climate change. But at this year’s CHOW I’m expecting to hear a lot about how the ocean is a source of solutions to both mitigate climate change and adapt to its continuously worsening impacts. The ocean provides us with so many opportunities. When we engage with the people living along coasts and who rely on the ocean for jobs, food or cultural heritage, we can make sure that ocean-climate action is done in a way that supports equitable development and restoration of justice.

Even people who don’t live along the coasts have close connections to the ocean—whether you vacation there with your family, or you love to eat seafood, or you like learning about all the dazzling ocean creatures. You don’t have to be an ocean expert to understand what the ocean means to all of us and how the ocean impacts of climate change will alter our lives. You also don’t have to be an ocean expert to do something about it. Whether you’re at CHOW this year or not, you can talk to your elected representatives about the need for ocean-based climate action, you can talk to your family and friends, or you can show up to community events and share your passion for the ocean. There are so many options out there, and I encourage all of us to find the right one that works.

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