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Why now? Why the ocean?

Earth is an ocean planet, and all life here depends on the ocean. The ocean gives us the oxygen we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It sustains and provides jobs for billions of people, including many of the world's most vulnerable.

The ocean is also the engine of Earth’s climate, supplying and absorbing heat, regulating the planetary water cycle, and housing 20 times more carbon than the atmosphere and terrestrial plants combined. Put simply, the ocean is climate and the climate is the ocean. 

For that reason, a group of the world’s leading ocean science, engineering, and policy institutions have come together to bring the ocean to the COP Blue Zone for the first time. Now more than ever, the ocean demands our attention. The ocean has already absorbed more than 90% of the heat generated by human activity. And every year ocean processes take up billions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere and transport it deep beneath the surface, keeping much of it safely sequestered for hundreds or even thousands of years.

As we change the planet's climate, the ocean is also changing, threatening the processes that regulate the climate and make Earth livable. Marine heat waves intensify storms, making droughts more severe and floods more destructive. Sea level is rising, threatening more than 1 billion people worldwide. Warming waters are reshaping ocean life, pushing species towards the poles, reshuffling ocean ecosystems and endangering the people who depend on them.

But the ocean does not have to be the victim or the villain on our fast-changing planet. With our help and with careful, science-based strategies, the ocean could be the hero. It could help feed our growing population safely and sustainably for generations. It could help meet or even exceed our needs for clean, carbon-free energy. And marine ecosystems could protect coastlines and the people who live there from storms and sea-level rise. Managed correctly, ocean-based carbon dioxide removal might even help us stop or even reverse the course of climate change.

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The Ocean Pavilion is just the start of this search for solutions to our climate crisis. Our path will not be easy, but on this ocean planet it is only natural that we should turn to the ocean for answers. 

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