Bruner Volunteer with Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter. He focuses on climate and the ocean. He lives in Cardiff.
Every surfer has an internal database that he or she has built over years of surfing at the local break. Before we even consider getting dressed up, we verify the daily water temperature and tide, wind direction, swell size, period, and swell size. Sometimes we question the grumpy old locals’ dataset when they claim their break “used to be way better,” but perhaps a margin of error for nostalgia needs to be factored in. However, one thing is certain: the ocean and local beaches are rapidly changing. Faster than ever. We know this because our experience in water tells us so. However, we also have data to show us that the trend we are feeling and seeing is unfortunately global.
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Surfers are in the ocean every day, and we are often the first to “feel” ocean changes related to larger trends that have been identified by robust climate research. Changes in ocean temperatures are also easy to notice. The region’s average sea surface temperatures have been increasing for the past several years. risen 1.24 Celsius since 1916. More than 80% of California’s waves are now expected to disappear by 2050. Scientists predict that by century’s end, we could be able to Sea level rises as high as 10 feetThese impacts not only have an impact on recreation, but also affect millions of people who live in coastal communities.
The ocean is both a victim of and a solution in the climate crisis. The ocean absorbs almost 90% of the heat we have created and about a third carbon dioxide.This is, of course, a way to mitigate some of the climate change’s impacts. However, the consequences for the ocean are increasing water temperature, rising sea level, increased acidity and an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes.
A hotter, higher ocean is of course the result of climate change from society’s addiction to burning fossil fuels. To solve the climate crisis, it is crucial to end our dependency on fossil fuels and build resilience to climate impacts that are already locked in (like some degree of sea level rise).
The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act 2021, which is currently before Congress, gives us a good starting point. It’s a piece of legislation that immediately stops new oil and gas exploration in multiple regions including part of the Pacific, and scales up renewable options like offshore wind energy. It also draws carbon out of the atmosphere by promoting the restoration of “blue carbon ecosystems,” or watery areas like marshes and mangroves that are incredibly good at sucking up carbon dioxide.
Southern Californians have seen (again) how dangerous offshore oil drilling is. We continue to risk our beautiful coastlines to extract a product which we should not be using. The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act will help us accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels.
Blue carbon has become an especially important concept in the conservation community because scientists have learned that coastal ecosystems are not only very good at storing carbon, but that it’s much cheaper to try to preserve and restore these systems than to allow them to be sacrificed in the name of other solutions down the road. Mission Bay’s pending land use status has been particularly open to blue carbon conversations. Even partial restoration of the wetland could give the region the opportunity to achieve significant carbon sequestration.
The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act also would direct money into research and science that could help us find opportunities to adapt to climate changes. We continue to ride the same wave that we have always ridden, ignoring the sudden appearances sharp rocks and storm clouds.
The Ocean-Based Solutions Act brings us one step closer to safe shores, and climate stabilization. The bill is currently co-sponsored by 39 members, but Mike Levin, San Diego County’s representative, is the only one. We must demand that our leaders protect the ocean in a county that depends heavily on it for its economic health and recreation.