Source: MPA News
When nations gathered in Paris last December to forge a pact on climate change, the agreement’s original text made no mention at all of oceans. Not only did this oversight ignore 71% of Earth’s surface; it also overlooked the fact that marine ecosystems act as an enormous climate control system.
The seas regulate the concentration of atmospheric CO2 worldwide by absorbing and storing it in a variety of ways. A healthy, resilient ocean – where there is abundant plant life to convert CO2 to oxygen, and abundant animal populations to store carbon in their shells, bodies, and wastes – may be key to helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Marine protected areas can play a role in fostering that healthy, resilient ocean. To be sure, addressing the enormous threat of global climate change will require much, much more than just MPAs. But MPAs do offer legitimate ways to store carbon and to offset some of the impacts of a changing climate. And practitioners are starting to explore some of these opportunities.