06 • 30 • 2021

Protecting our Ocean and Coasts from the Climate Crisis

By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

Evidence of the climate crisis can be seen across the globe with record breaking temperatures, extreme weather events, increased hurricanes, wildfires, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. The latest signs of the climate emergency can be found in Portland, Oregon which soared to 116 degrees this past weekend and the West Coast which was pummeled by high tides and coastal flooding during a recent south swell.

On June 24th, Surfrider CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen joined KCAL News to discuss the impacts of sea level rise on the California coast and why these high tide events are a preview of future conditions.

Increasingly, it is evident that our ocean and coastlines are at the center of the climate crisis.  Rising seas and more powerful storms are damaging community infrastructure, shrinking coastlines, and diminishing the public’s ability to enjoy our favorite beaches and surf spots.  Our ocean acts like a giant sponge and has absorbed 90% of the heat, and 30% of carbon dioxide, trapped in our atmosphere from fossil fuel emissions. As a result, the ocean is warmer, more acidic, and less habitable for marine life.

Just within the past few years, a slew of scientific reports indicate we have little time to tackle the problem for future generations. Recently, 11,000 scientists issued a statement saying: “Unless there are major transformations to global society, humans will face untold suffering due to the climate crisis.” 

While the climate crisis is daunting, Surfrider is undeterred. Over the past five years, we have built a multi-pronged climate program where Surfrider is working around the country to protect coastal communities, ecological resources, and recreation in light of the climate crisis. 

We’re rolling up our sleeves to: 

  • Educate our supporters, the general public, and decision makers about how the climate crisis is impacting our ocean and coast. 
  • Safeguard and pass climate legislation at the state and federal levels. 
  • Help improve coastal management and development standards by publishing a “State of the Beach Report” where we ‘grade’ states on how they manage coastlines and plan for rising seas. In the report we provide detailed recommendations to improve current practices. 
  • Work directly with decision makers across the country to develop sea level rise plans.
  • Participate in dune restoration and ‘living shoreline’ projects that can withstand rising seas. 
  • Partner with universities to better understand ocean acidification.  
  • Advocate for greenhouse gas reduction.
  • Lobby the halls of Congress!  Through our Coastal Recreation Hill Day, recently over 160 Surfrider advocates conducted over 160 meetings with Congressional representatives urging stronger leadership to solve the climate crisis.

Let’s all roll up our sleeves together and join the millions of people who are fighting for the future. Contact your Congressional Represenative.