With that in mind, Chef Matt and his team have designed a sumptuous—and almost entirely plant-based—menu to show just how delicious climate-friendly meals can be.
In developing the latest seasonal menu for the Aquarium Restaurant, Chef Matt wanted to both lower the carbon footprint of each dish, and to delight customers’ taste buds with new and enticing flavors.
The science is clear: The accelerating pace of greenhouse gas emissions threatens the health of ocean life and the living systems that support human civilization. New science emerges every day to support these conclusions, and this summer’s unprecedented global heat waves, torrential rainstorms and catastrophic fires demonstrate with clarity that we have no time to lose.
Now is the time to act with urgency to address the threat, not to reverse course on the progress we’ve already made.
The Aquarium will use its voice—including at the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco—to mobilize support for actions that reverse our self-destructive course, and put us on a path to a secure and sustainable future.
Life seems easy for the little red tuna crabs delighting Monterey Bay Aquarium visitors. The temperature and water chemistry in their exhibit are carefully controlled and stable. In the wild, it’s a different story. Conditions are changing—fast. Crabs and other critters are in a race with time, as record levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) warm the planet and change ocean chemistry.
For more than a century, scientists have known that burning fossil fuels warms our planet. They’ve also long been aware of another impact—this one affecting ocean chemistry.
In 1909, a chemist at the Carlsberg Brewery Laboratory discovered that CO2 dissolved in water not only creates tiny bubbles (like in beer). It also makes liquid more acidic. In other words, our burning of fossil fuels is changing the chemistry of the ocean, a process called ocean acidification.
The impact of rising atmospheric CO2 developed slowly and subtly. By the 1960s, however, climatologists began raising alarms. Decades later, Al Gore’s landmark book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, framed climate change as an urgent threat to human survival. As the scientific community worked to build accurate models of climate dynamics and explore ways to deal with rampant carbon, some eyed the ocean—which absorbs 25 percent to 30 percent of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere—as a solution. Could we stash even more atmospheric carbon in the sea, sparing the planet the worst impacts of global warming? Continue reading Science on the front lines of ocean acidification
Statement of Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on global climate change:
“Monterey Bay Aquarium cheered when, less than two years ago, 195 of the world’s 197 nations agreed: Climate change poses an existential threat to human society, and the people of the world must act together to limit its primary driver, the burning of fossil fuels. This unprecedented global consensus was reinforced by strong commitments from business leaders in the United States and around the world to invest in innovative clean energy technologies that will create jobs and build a sustainable future.
“We are so proud of the State of California’s global leadership in accelerating climate solutions and growing a clean-energy economy. This is essential in order to preserve the health of the ocean – our life support system on Earth. It’s the source of half the oxygen we breathe and the primary source of protein for more than one billion people.
“The ocean absorbs much of the carbon dioxide we produce when we burn fossil fuels, buffering us from the full impact of global climate change. But it’s paying a price in ways that will limit its ability to produce the oxygen and food we need to survive. As sea level rises in a warming ocean, we’ll face other significant threats to our national security, as people worldwide are displaced from their homes along the coast.
California’s Central Coast is known for its rocky shorelines, fresh seafood and superb seaside golf. Now, it’s poised to become one of the state’s leaders in renewable energy.
San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties recently came together to establish a new power authority that gives local communities greater control over the sources of their electricity. The project, called Monterey Bay Community Power, allows communities in the Monterey Bay region to accelerate progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions—the primary driver of climate change and ocean acidification—and serve as a model for development and use of renewable energy development.
Monterey Bay Community Power enables participating communities to become clean power capitals. The authority intends to purchase almost 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power. That’s more than double the percentage of clean power currently offered by the area’s private utilities. Profits from energy sales to customers in the tri-county region will stay in the community to help fund renewable energy projects, create jobs and stimulate the local economy.
Today, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to begin dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical federal policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that drive global climate change.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard expressed dismay over the executive order, which undermines U.S. leadership in fighting climate change—the greatest environmental challenge of our time.
“The executive order rolls back existing federal policies that are critical to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, promoting clean-energy solutions and protecting our ocean, the heart of the planet’s climate system,” she says. “Now is the time to speed up, not reverse, the progress we’ve made in these areas.”
The issue is a priority for Monterey Bay Aquarium because climate change and ocean acidification affect ocean health—and our own survival—in profound ways.
Carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels causes Earth’s atmosphere to thicken, trapping more heat on our planet. The ocean absorbs at least 80 percent of this extra heat, warming the sea’s surface and setting off a cascade of impacts including sea-level rise, stronger storms, shrinking sea ice, coral bleaching and shifting ranges in which marine life can survive.
Carbon emissions also trigger a chemical reaction in the ocean, lowering its pH. More acidic seawater makes survival more challenging for marine life with calcium carbonate shells. The impacts ripple through ocean ecosystems, which produce oxygen and food that sustain life on Earth.
The Aquarium supports urgent, science-based action to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, promote clean-energy solutions and protect ocean health.
“Monterey Bay Aquarium will continue to advocate for science-based public policies to reduce the emission of heat-trapping gases and promote U.S. leadership in addressing the grave threats to society posed by climate change. We urge the U.S. to honor its commitments under theParis Agreement,” Julie says.
You can join us in the movement toward cleaner fuels and a healthier ocean. Urge your elected officials to defend America’s climate progress and remain a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Learn more about the links between carbon emissions and ocean health—and how you can make a difference—on our Climate Action for the Ocean webpage.
Last December in Paris, more than 180 nations came together for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015, also known as COP21. The resulting Paris Agreement is the strongest-ever international commitment to reducing global emissions of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning.
COP21 signaled that the world’s nations agree: Climate change is real and having a serious impact on our planet. COP22 takes the next step—it marks the point at which the global community begins to act.
Greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, causing excessive global warming and rising sea levels. Accumulation in the ocean is causing acidification that threatens marine life – and much of the oxygen and food that we depend upon for our survival. Our actions hold the key to solving the climate crisis.
In addition to recognizing the urgent need to reduce harmful emissions, Governor Brown offers bold direction for California to effectively adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change. This comprehensive approach is moving the nation and the world toward a more sustainable future.