Ocean Restoration - Update 2023

In this Climate Emergency Forum, Charles welcomes Russ George and Alex Carlin to discuss Ocean Restoration Update 2023. Alex, a reporter, directs questions to Russ, an expert on ocean restoration. Russ explains his lifelong work in eco-restoration and how, when climate change emerged, he focused on ocean pastures and plankton.

This video was recorded on December 6th, 2023, and published on January 29th, 2024 and its content is based on the opinions of the participants.

Russ emphasizes that plankton, akin to land plants, perform 90% of the planet’s photosynthesis, thereby determining CO2 levels in the atmosphere and climate change. He discusses how plankton health and abundance depends on mineral dust blowing in the wind from dry land into the oceans, and how increased CO2 in the atmosphere, causing the greening of dry land, leads to less dust in the wind, causing the plankton to decline. Alex highlights the importance of plankton in reducing CO2 to safe levels and solving the scourge of ocean acidification.

The conversation delves into the immediate impact of ocean restoration, explaining how phytoplankton prevents CO2 from becoming carbonic acid, thereby averting ocean acidification. Russ also describes the cooling effect of plankton, creating clouds and reflecting sunlight, addressing albedo. The discussion touches on the swift action needed to counteract climate-related crises.

The forum highlights a significant development in ocean restoration—the EU’s Nature Restoration Law, allocating funds to restore natural ecosystems, including oceans, by 2030. Russ praises this initiative and expresses optimism about ocean restoration becoming a global effort.

The dialogue includes a recounting of a successful ocean restoration project off the coast of Alaska and British Columbia, resulting in a historic increase in pink salmon population.

They stress the importance of prioritizing the removal of today’s CO2, with various countries, especially in Africa, showing strong interest in this priority.

Alex shares his experiences in French West Africa, where he initiated the “Africa Will Be the Climate Leader” campaign, blending ocean restoration advocacy with music. Alex expresses the belief that Africa can lead in climate solutions, especially through initiatives like plankton power and ocean pasture restoration. The interview includes a live performance of the song “Africa Will Be the Leader,” emphasizing the connection between music and environmental activism.


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We’d like to acknowledge these two organizations without which our attendance at COP28 would not have been possible.


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