Dear delegates, dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honor to be given the floor at the 21st Conference of the Parties here in Paris – a meeting of enormous consequences for Earth, its elements, and all its creatures, great and small. The agreements that are reached at the 2015 climate summit will have consequences for times so far into the future that only the ocean and the mountains will remember.
Today I wish to turn your attention to an aspect of climate change that you have quite possibly never considered. It is an issue of great importance and grave consequences for the ocean, namely that of oxygen depletion. You may not know this, but the animals in the ocean need oxygen to live, just like the animals at land. And, as on land, it is the plants that produce the oxygen. In fact, the ocean normally produces much more oxygen than it needs, and therefore shares its oxygen with the animals in land, including you humans. Nearly half the oxygen you use originates in the ocean. So you see, we, the Ocean, provide a great service as oxygen producer to all Earth's creatures, wherever they live. And I tell you about this because I fear that we, the Ocean, cannot continue to provide this service at the same high standard much longer. We cannot even supply enough oxygen for our own creatures anymore. "Why?" you may ask. Well, the ultimate reason is the emission of carbon dioxide associated with combustion of fossil fuels. This emission creates temperature increases in the ocean, just like on land. And when the surface ocean gets warmer it gets more buoyant, making it difficult to mix the surface waters with the deep water. Here it gets a little complicated, but no less important: the ocean plants that produce the oxygen live in the surface waters. Less mixing by the winds means less oxygen transported downwards, to where the ocean animals need it. And less mixing means fewer nutrients coming up from the deep ocean to provide food for the ocean plants. Less food means fewer plants and thereby even less oxygen production. This is a worrysome trend that we, the Ocean, worry deeply about, not just because it affects our own creatures, but because it affects all Earth's creatures, great and small, rich and poor, women and man, child and old. There is only one way to stop this worrysome trend, namely to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide. Every day and every year that you postpone this decision, we, the Ocean, weakens and our services – which you all depend upon – deteriorate. We beg of you: if not for us, then your you, make a decision. Produce an agreement at this summit that will put us, the Ocean, back on the path towards health, so that we can, once again, be the top quality oxygen producer that all Earth's creatures, great and small, depend upon. Thank you kindly for listening.
Most humbly,We, the Ocean.
Written by Cecilie Mauritzen, Chief Scientist, the Kon Tiki 2 Expedition, Lead author of the 4th and 5th Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change