Our Ocean: Changing Climate, Shifting Tides

What You Need To Know

The ocean is part of God’s creation and is central to stabilizing the earth’s climate. We are called to enjoy, protect and care for the ocean as a sacred gift from God.

  1. A healthy ocean is essential to every living thing on Earth. It covers 71% of the earth, creating 50% of the earth’s oxygen, and absorbing over 25% of the carbon dioxide.
  2. A healthy ocean is humankind’s most effective ally against climate change. The ocean absorbs the majority of the excess heat generated by pollution, distributing the heat through ocean currents to help stabilize the climate.
  3. A healthy ocean provides a lot of food and is important to our economy. Changing ocean temperatures and overfishing have impacted the fish quality and populations, and the jobs and businesses connected to the sea.
  4. Climate change harms the ocean. Increasing pollution causes acidification and warming temperatures which harm coral reefs, increase the growth of harmful algae, and force migration of marine life impacting entire ecosystems.
  5. Intensifying hurricanes and sea level rise due to the warming ocean and melting glaciers impact billions of people (40% of Americans) and island and coastal cultures.
  6. Pollution damages the ocean. 80% of ocean pollutants come from the land — including trash (90% are plastics), oil, pathogens in sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, toxic industrial wastes, and sediments. Runoff contaminates our coastal waters and harms marine life.
  7. Holy Scriptures teach and religious traditions remind us that life was created in waters. Protecting and caring for the ocean is an expression of reverence for the cradle of life.

What You Need To Do

The ocean is vital for our human communities, important for vast and interconnected ecosystems, and is integrated into our traditions and common histories. The most important thing you can do is to talk with others about the ocean’s connection to our health and the climate. You can start today.

  1. Talk about and advocate for the ocean in your congregation, on social media, and in sign-on letters. Encourage elected officials to support legislation that maintains and protects the ocean.
  2. Invite your congregation and community to learn more using resources like this Climate Action Sheet and Creation justice Ministries’ Ocean page.
  3. Enjoy the ocean responsibly. Clean up trash, respect wildlife and signage, and leave spaces better than you found them. Purchase fish that are sustainably caught or harvested.
  4. Protect all our waterways for a healthier ocean. Dispose of trash properly, encourage plastic-free options, and limit single-use plastics. Limit the use of chemicals on lawns and gardens. Look for alternatives to conventional herbicides and pesticides.
  5. Reduce your energy consumption. Save money by saving energy. When possible purchase electric cars and heat pumps and source electricity from solar, wind, and geothermal to transition away from burning fuels that pollute our air.
  6. Get involved in hands-on ocean justice work at sites like Blue Theology mission stations, for example. Visit a coastal community to learn more about care for the ocean.

We have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean.

— John F. Kennedy

When God began to create
the heavens and the earth…
darkness covered the face of
the deep, while a wind from
God swept over the face of
the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2

For in [Christ] all things in
heaven and on earth were
Colossians 1:16

Allah created the heaven
and the earth, and all that is
between them in six days.
Qur’an 7:54