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BY KATHRYN BERG

March 5, 2019
When it's healthy, kelp provides food and habitat for its fellow ocean-dwellers, but heat waves kill it.
From the New York Times: A study, published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that ocean heat waves, which have increased dramatically in the last century, are destroying vital aquatic life and threaten the entire ocean ecosystem.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. - Genesis 1:20-21
As we know, the oceans have absorbed most of the heat trapped by excess greenhouse gases, the gases formed when humans burn fossil fuels. Along with increasing baseline ocean temperatures, this excess heat has increased both the frequency and duration of marine heat waves. (A marine heat wave occurs when temperatures reach extremes for five days or more.) As an earlier study showed, ocean heat waves during the last century increased in both frequency and duration; globally overall, there were 54% more days per year with marine heat waves.

The new study shows that heat waves are harming all marine life, plants and animals, including sea birds. Particularly disturbing, and what surprised scientists is the significant loss of what biologists call foundational species, such as coral reefs, sea grasses and kelp forests. These species support the diversity of aquatic life, since they moderate temperatures, provide shelter from predators, and act as food sources. Because they are foundational, when they are threatened, the entire ocean ecosystem is threatened along with them.

We know that climate change is a global threat, but as I read today’s story in conjunction with Genesis 1:20-21, it also feels very particular. Marine heat waves posing an existential threat to the teeming life in the oceans...What have we done? Meanwhile, Democrats fight over climate change strategies and whether the Green New Deal is overreach, while Republicans mock them for “banning burgers” and “coming for their cows.” Caught in the middle is the public, especially the young people who will live with the consequences.

As we explore solutions, I’m grateful for the people asking the questions. It’s wise to debate the specifics of the Green New Deal and other climate proposals, but I hope that we’ll recognize friendly fire for what it is and reserve our real criticism for those who would do nothing but heap ridicule. We owe it to our children, and the earth we steward, to restore oceans teeming with living creatures.
Educate yourself about proposals to combat climate change, including the Green New Deal; understand their specifics and the criticism. (Here's a starter.) Let your knowledge inform your actions and your choices of 2020 candidates for office.
Creator of life,

Thank you for blessing our planet with teeming waters, with creatures of the sea and every living thing. Awaken us all to the urgency of climate change and give us the will and wisdom to address it.

Amen.
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