The Puget Sound Partnership, Washington Dept. of Ecology and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group (CIG) assert the Pacific NW marine ecosystem is in jeopardy of disruption from climate change. Dr. Nate Mantua from the Univ. of Washington has spoken extensively on potential impacts throughout the food web from plankton to killer whales. All the ecosystems exhibited at the Seattle Aquarium are threatened by climate and ocean acidification changes.
Rationale for a Seattle Aquarium climate/acidification policy:
- Address climate change and ocean acidification as an integral part of our mission to “Inspire conservation of our marine environment”.
- Collaborate with local, regional and national conservation education efforts on the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change to marine ecosystems.
- Influence public attitudes/behavior through a variety of strategies to inspire marine conservation through personal climate actions.
- Advance Aquarium operations that reduce our institutional carbon footprint.
- Increase business with firms that value and promote climate protection.
Examples of recent Seattle Aquarium activities related to climate change:
- In September, 2009 the Seattle Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium led the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in submitting a letter on behalf of over 200 member institutions to the federal Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force that included addressing climate change as a national environmental priority.
- In January, 2010 the Aquarium hosted a Climate Change 101 workshop to train interpretive staff in effective communication around this pressing issue. Partners from the UW, NW Zoo and Aquarium Alliance and the new NOAA-funded National Coalition of Aquariums Educating about Climate Change participated.
- AZA announced a climate change commitment on Earth Day 2010. The Seattle Aquarium was among these early adopters.
Seattle Aquarium actions in responses to climate change/ocean acidification:
- We will present conservation messages to our visitors that include climate change and the effects of ocean acidification related to our PNW and coral reef animals through interpretive talks, exhibits, public and school group programs/events and our website.
- We will offer positive, hopeful messages while acknowledging the complexities of the issue.
- We will continue to reduce the Seattle Aquarium’s carbon footprint as a model for suggested actions by our members and the broader community.
- We will offer practical and hopeful steps to visitors to inspire them to take action on a personal level to address climate change/ocean acidification.
- We will support—and encourage our visitors to support - public policy efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change/ocean acidification.