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Curbing the climate crisis at the Georgia Aquarium

Curbing the climate crisis at the Georgia Aquarium
Curbing the climate crisis at the Georgia Aquarium
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ATLANTA, Ga. (WGXA) -- Seeing the dolphins, sting rays, jellyfish and eels at the Georgia aquarium is an electric experience for all members of the family.

But if you dive deeper past the exhibits, you'll find the ocean climate solutions center, it's the only one of it's kind in the US, it's focus - curbing threats to public health from the climate crisis.

"In a typical day, we are really trying to use this center as a think tank to help test and identify innovative and equitable ocean based solutions to the climate crisis, said Courtney McGeachy, Director of the Ocean Visions UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions.

McGeachy, the director of the center, working build a wave of support for the life that lies in and outside of the aquarium.

"Humans have been adding a lot of carbon dioxide not only to the atmosphere but into the ocean as well. It's really important to make sure that we conserve the resources in the ocean. World economies depend on the ocean for livelihood such as fishing, tourism, transit. We want to make sure these resources are available to centuries to come," said McGeachy.

When we think about climate change we often think of the atmosphere, but the ocean also plays a huge role in the warming of the Earth.

The ocean is actually one of the main sources of the oxygen in the air that we breathe every day. Like on land,

"The trees provide the oxygen, and they also absorb carbon dioxide and store some of it. Well, there are kelp forests and other plant life in the ocean that provide the same system. So that's the biological pump of the ocean."

And if our oceans didn't exist, the world would be much warmer and there would be more carbon dioxide in the air - as the ocean is currently the main storage device of our carbon emissions.

But excess carbon in the ocean isn't a good thing either.

"It also prevents mixing with the middle layer of the ocean which disrupts food webs for some of the larger megafauna in the ocean like some that we have here in the aquarium. It also causes sea level rises which affects coastal communities with erosion, aggressive storms, and flooding. And it also melts arctic sea ice which causes even larger climate implications," said McGeachy.

So how does the aquarium play a role in this initiative?

"The aquarium provides a really unique role to provide awareness and provide outreach around these different kinds of innovations and solutions. So, the aquarium receives thousands of visitors a day and millions of visitors a year," said McGeachy.

so, what are some of the solutions that are being brought about in this unique operation?

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"There are technological advancements such as ocean alkalinity enhancements or different technologies that mimic that the natural solubility pump of the ocean. But there are also nature-based solutions such as mangroves, sea grasses, and sea beds that naturally trap and store carbon. But then there's social innovations like.... whether that's engaging with local indigenous communities, finding different opportunities for co-design and knowledge transfer for developing countries in these different technologies," said McGeachy.

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