I’m pretty sure I can check “Celebrate National Oceans Month” off my list for June. I crossed Boston Harbor on the ferry to Hull, Massachusetts and enjoyed the town’s seashore. I celebrated a friend’s wedding on an island in Lake Ontario. I enjoyed an evening paddle at the mouth of the Charles River, just yards from the Atlantic. And how could I forget the endless hours of watching and listening to Disney’s Moana with my 2-year-old?

On the ferry to Hull, MA

In Moana, “Ocean” is discerning, playful, goal-oriented, and powerful. These characteristics aren’t too far off from the actual ocean, and represent several of the ways we relate to the ocean as climate adaptation professionals:  

  • The ocean calls us to discern its wisdom through ocean observations which enable us to monitor the climate system and model better projections about future conditions.
  • Opportunities for play in coastal and marine environments inspire so many people to become educated and take action on climate and environmental issues.
  • The powerful nature of ocean-related climate impacts, including sea level rise and the increasing frequency and intensity of coastal storms, create windows of opportunity to educate and act on adaptation.
  • The swift changes happening in marine environments due to climate change, like ocean acidification and its associated impacts, are important motivators for many to act quickly and in a targeted manner towards climate adaptation goals. And, as our planet’s largest carbon sink, the ocean reminds us of the imperative to set and achieve mitigation goals as well.

“Ocean” in Disney’s Moana (Credit: allmovie.com)

Oceans, and the way in which we relate to them, are a barometer for overall progress on climate action. Last week, President Trump rescinded President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, replacing it with an executive order of his own which shifts the focus from environmental stewardship to resource extraction. Now, instead of a policy that prioritizes restoration of ecosystems that protect communities and economies from the worsening coastal hazards wrought by climate change, we have a policy that prioritizes oil and gas production, contributing to increased carbon pollution. It remains to be seen how this new guidance will affect other important work spurred by Obama administration policies, such as regional ocean partnerships and planning.

In the face of a national policy that frames the ocean primarily as a territory to be exploited for economic gain, now more than ever it’s critical to ensure our work drives toward equal access to everything our oceans enable and represent. Two organizations close to my heart, NOAA and Pride Outside, have beautifully captured this message with their #PrideintheOcean campaign. June isn’t just National Oceans Month, it’s also Pride Month, and #PrideintheOcean calls us to share, “how you take pride in this blue planet.” To me, embodying #PrideintheOcean means shaping a world where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the ocean, everyone benefits equally from ocean resources, and everyone is equally protected from ocean and coastal-related climate impacts. Right now, as ASAP’s Senior Program Manager, a small role I play in that work revolves around working with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee to consider tough questions around the accessibility and diversity of the ASAP network, the accessibility of climate adaptation career pathways, and the diversity of the climate adaptation workforce.

I’d love to hear from you about how you take pride in this blue planet, and how we can work together towards a more just, equitable, and climate-safe future for all.

Happy Oceans Month and Happy Pride!

(Credit: Laura Lilly via NOAA Office of Marine Sanctuaries)


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