Climate Action for the Ocean

Climate change and ocean acidification are affecting ocean health—and our own survival—in profound ways.

Fortunately, the ocean is resilient and can recover if we take action.


Excess Carbon Dioxide is Changing the Ocean

Warming Waters

When people burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That carbon dioxide, along with other heat-trapping gases, acts like a blanket that keeps getting thicker around the Earth. The heat that would otherwise be radiated out into space causes the temperature to rise.

The ocean absorbs 80-90 percent of this extra heat. As the ocean's surface warms, it sets off a cascade of impacts including sea-level rise, stronger storms, shrinking sea ice and coral bleaching. Some marine species are moving toward the poles as the ocean warms. Others are less able to adapt to the changes.

A More Acidic Ocean

Our carbon dioxide emissions are affecting the ocean in another major way—and it's about chemistry. Ocean acidification happens when the ocean absorbs some of the carbon pollution we've pumped into the air, triggering a chemical reaction that lowers the ocean's pH. The ocean is already 30 percent more acidic than it was before people started burning fossil fuels.

Acidic seawater makes it tougher for shelled marine animals to survive. The fragile shells of tiny sea snails called pteropods, for example, are thinning as the pH level drops. These impacts ripple through the marine food web, affecting many of our favorite seafood species.

What You Can Do

Climate action means creating a better world for people and the planet.

Working together, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, slow global warming and ocean acidification, and adapt to the impacts already in motion.

Raise your voice

Bullhorn

Urge decision-makers to help stem the flow.
Ask your elected representatives to reduce the sources of plastic pollution. Speak up for bans on single-use plastics.

Drive the market.
Buy products with non-plastic packaging. Support restaurants that offer biodegradable take-out containers and utensils. Request your drink without a plastic straw. Tell your friends about ocean-healthy businesses.

BYO.
Pick up the habit of toting your own to-go container, coffee cup, reusable straw and shopping bag.

Encourage waste reduction in your community.
Start a "blue team" to reduce single-use plastic at work. Spark a conversation about zero-waste living on social media. Organize a beach or park clean-up. Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!


Join Monterey Bay Aquarium

When you visit, become a member or donate, you support our work to reduce the sources of ocean plastic pollution. Together, we can make positive changes for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today

Consider the 5 R's

Lightbulb

Plastic may seem convenient in the short term, but we can make more thoughtful choices for our planet's future. Here's how:

Rethink your consumption habits and their effects on the ocean.

Refuse single-use plastic you can do without.

Reuse bags, bottles and other products.

Repair things before you replace them.

Recycle what you can, and buy recycled products.


Join Monterey Bay Aquarium

When you visit, become a member or donate, you support our work to reduce the sources of ocean plastic pollution. Together, we can make positive changes for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today


What We're Doing

  • At Monterey Bay Aquarium, we’re continually working to reduce our own carbon footprint by upgrading our infrastructure and making changes to our business practices.
  • We created an alternative transportation program to encourage our staff to carpool, take the bus, bike or walk to work at least three days a week.
  • We communicate with our visitors through exhibits, programs, and volunteer guides about the ocean impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, and what they can do to help solve the problem.
  • We spark conversations about climate change and the ocean with our 3 million social media followers on Twitter, Wordpress, Tumblr, Facebook and other channels.
  • Our Seafood Watch program is working to better understand emissions of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases in the production of wild and farmed seafood.
  • We engage with elected officials, advocating for science-based policy action to address climate change and ocean acidification.

Learn More at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Future of the Ocean blog