THE CALIFORNIA COASTLINE consists of various habitats including kelp forests, estuaries, wetlands, rocky reefs, and rocky intertidal zones (also known as tide pools). All of these habitats are vital natural resources that support thriving ecosystems, which in turn support healthy communities; provide economic and recreational value; and offer a natural form of climate resilience by dampening effects of sea level rise as well as absorbing the majority of our fossil fuel emissions and the extra heat as global temperatures rise.
Oceans have served as a climate buffer for decades, but this has come at great cost because the climate crisis, accelerated by human activities, has altered the oceans’ natural processes. We see increasing ocean acidification, higher water temperatures, more frequent harmful algal blooms, disruption of ocean circulation, and rising sea levels that physically alter coastal habitats. In addition to these impacts from the climate crisis, stormwater pollution, plastic, and other contaminants affect our rivers, lakes, and ocean every day. Even now, in the 50th year of the Clean Water Act, half of US waters remain too polluted to serve their intended beneficial uses, such as water supply, recreation, habitat, and more.
For more information about local impacts, check out Heal the Bay’s 2021 Climate Change Aquarium Tour where our Senior Education Manager, Kelly Kelly, explains the climate impacts on the coastal and intertidal habitats of the Santa Monica Bay.
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In spite of all of these destructive impacts, our coastal and marine ecosystems persist. Without even having to get into the water, we can observe this incredible resilience within intertidal ecosystems. Tide pool habitat conditions shift throughout the day as the tides rise and fall, from exposure to dry air and UV radiation, to complete submergence in ocean water. The organisms that live in these habitats have evolved to thrive under constantly changing conditions – dry vs. wet, hot vs. cold, exposed to land-based predators vs. not, and fluctuations in salinity as well. They may even survive as sea level rises, but only if they are given enough time to adapt, and enough room to move up shore. That part is up to us. If we drastically reduce our fossil fuel emissions, and even work to draw carbon back out of the atmosphere with nature-based solutions, we can slow climate change enough to allow for adaptation within these coastal ecosystems, as well as in our own human communities through practices such as managed retreat and protection through living shorelines. Slowing the rate of climate change will take immense and immediate action.
Take the Climate Challenge
We know that that majority of fossil fuel emissions (71%, in fact!) are from big corporations and extraction operations. But we are not powerless in this climate crisis. Individual action adds up and provides us with a daily reminder of why this fight matters. Beyond that, individual action can also take the form of supporting the systemic change and resilient policies that we need to tackle the biggest sources of emissions. Whether you have money, time, creativity, passion, or something else entirely your own, we all have a unique role that we can play. You can start with small changes at home, or do your part for critical systemic change by signing petitions or calling political representatives. Together, our actions can make huge waves.
Get involved this weekend by joining Heal the Bay’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Watch team for an early morning tide pool tour and bioblitz – a biological survey recording the species living within a designated area — to document the current state of this critical intertidal ecosystem.
Want to do more? Consider the skills, experiences, and resources you have to offer and create a personal list of climate actions. Spring into Action today by doing one thing on this list, and then use that momentum to do what you can, when you can, with what you have all year long.
Here are some ideas to choose from to get you started with your personalized climate challenge…
Where We Live
- Pick up trash around your ￼neighborhood
- Ditch single-use plastic and switch to reusables at home
- Refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste – yes the order matters!
- Remove any hardscape or lawn on your property and replace it with a vegetable garden or drought tolerant native vegetation
- Start or join a community garden
- Sign up for Green Power if you live in the City of LA, or opt into 100% renewable energy if your city is part of the Clean Power Alliance
- Reduce your energy needs
- Turn off lights, unplug unused electronics, and swap out old lights with LEDs (once the bulbs burn out)
- Bring in a professional to insulate your home, or find simple swaps around the house like adding thick curtains around your windows
- Set your thermostat for maximum energy (and cost) savings, or regulate temperature without a thermostat by opening/closing windows and using those thick curtains
- Wash clothes in cold water, and hang dry rather than using the dryer
- Decrease your water usage
- Take shorter showers
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes
- Audit your household water footprint
How We Commute
- Telecommute if it is an option
- Choose public transportation
- Walk or skateboard for shorter distances
- Ride a bicycle
- Support projects that improve access to alternative and active transportation
- If you must drive…
- Invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle
- Use car sharing services with electric vehicles
- Make sure your vehicle is in tiptop shape for optimal efficiency (secure gas cap, inflate tires, etc.)
What We Eat
- Consider a plant-based diet
- Start by eating one vegan meal each day
- Reduce food waste
- Eat your leftovers
- “Vote” with your wallet to support regenerative agriculture or community-supported agriculture.
- Compost at home or sign up for composting services
- Support sustainable seafood
- Patron environmentally friendly restaurants and businesses
What We Learn
- Educate yourself, your family, friends, and community
- Watch Heal the Bay’s Climate Reality Knowledge Drop
- Get trained as a Climate Reality Leader
- Check out The Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Footprint Calculator to understand your carbon footprint
- Put climate change books in little libraries around your neighborhood
- Start a Heal the Bay club at your high school
- Follow climate change activists on social media
- Listen to scientists and keep tabs on their latest research
- Empower students and the next generation with tools
- Request a Speaker’s Bureau climate talk for your school or organization
- Sign up for a Suits on the Sand climate event for your business or group
How We Vote
- Vote in local, statewide and national elections!
- Support just and equitable environmental policies in support of:
- Climate resiliency
- A tax on carbon
- The end of fossil fuels
- Regenerative agriculture
- Renewable energy
- A reduction in plastic waste
- Be an advocate
- Attend and give public comments at local Agency, City Council, or County Board of Supervisor meetings
- Send a letter to your representatives so they know climate action is important to you, because they may represent you on the global stage (COP26)
- Participate in public demonstrations and rallies with groups like Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles
- Sign petitions
- Create climate inspired art and share it with the world
- Join existing efforts by Heal the Bay and partner groups to demand climate action now
- Get involved with STAND-L.A. to Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling
- Get involved with VISION against oil in neighborhoods
- Advocate for the restoration of Ballona Wetlands
- Join Reusable LA and fight plastic pollution
- Urge LA County Board of Supervisors to Vote Yes on Plastic Foodware Ordinance
- Become a member of OurWaterLA in support of smart water
- Volunteer with Heal the Bay
Questions about any of these possible actions? Contact Annelisa Moe here at Heal the Bay for more information or support in your advocacy work!