A Desperate Cry For Kelp: The Urgency of Global Climate Change

April 17th, 2021. By Cayden Tu '24

Our life as we know it is changing. Many people in SF have visited the Academy of Sciences or even Monterey Bay. They might've come across kelp forests, which are a major component of our marine ecosystem. These forests are dying quickly and we, as a community, need to address this problem immediately.

British nature historian David Attenborough, once said, “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.” Climate change is one of the most unnerving challenges we have faced yet, as it greatly affects the world we live in. Many people wonder, "what is the point of tackling these issues if the disastrous results will not occur in our lifetimes?" People may even think that a single individual can not create nearly enough change to affect the outcome. However, these problems are escalating as a direct result of humanity’s actions, from their desire to consume immense amounts of beef to driving cars which pollute the air, the world might end in mere generations; this signals that the next generation will not see the same world we see now. If you have yet to visit Yosemite, please consider going there to see the wonderful beauties in order to comprehend the importance of preserving this amazing planet.

One of the problems humans have to tackle in order to create a sustainable world to fix the marine ecosystem and keep it alive. To do so, we must confront challenges such as coral bleaching and saving endangered species. Even though many may think that this does not apply to an area like San Francisco, recent events have proven otherwise. In 2019, there was a marine problem occurring from San Francisco to Oregon where 90 percent of kelp forests were dying. This led to the death of many of San Francisco's native fish, disrupting a cycle and creating problems for numerous other species as well. When the problem spread, 50 percent of kelp located south of San Francisco began to die. Without kelp, other species and organisms also began dying. Even businesses in the city suffered and had to close down, like a red abalone fishery that closed in 2018. Changes like this in our ecosystem result from climate change and have created so much chaos in marine life that human intervention is necessary to fix a self-created problem.

In addition, sea stars have been dying from the kelp outage while kelp-eating sea urchins have had a population 60 times its normal size from the lack of sea stars as the sea stars were predators to sea urchins. Heatwaves and storms have increased since industrialization, and toxic algae have been created from the six-degree rise in ocean water, killing many ocean species. Through global warming and climate change, humans have interrupted the world’s ocean cycle and now sea urchins are consuming everything, leading to less fish and more toxicity. Almost every species depends on kelp, from fuzzy sea otters to sharks, and it is a grave sign that kelp is dying as the species is one of the most resilient marine species in the world. Humans have to recognize the importance of bringing back nature’s beauty for survival.

Even in the inner parts of the San Francisco Bay, almost every native species of fish in the bay have had a steady decline in their population, seemingly getting worse every year since 1980. From the polluted water, it is said that types of salmon are most threatened as wetlands and rivers are not as plentiful, having fewer places to safely mate and fertilize their eggs. In conclusion, our environment has taken a beating from the success humans have had with technology and it is truly essential for everyone in the present and in the future to help bring back the verdancy of our world, with the start of marine ecosystems, through donating to marine conservation programs and using more self-renewable resources.