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A new exhibition seeks to put oceans front and center in the climate change conversation.

The recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) predicting accelerating species extinctions has inspired a renewed climate change conversation — one that seems to always exclude the world’s oceans.

A new approach

A new exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific seeks to change that. “Pacific Visions was designed to let people explore pathways to alternative futures,” explains Jerry R. Schubel, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the immersive theater. “It has a screen that’s 130 feet long and 32 feet tall,” Schubel explains. “The audience is immersed in the sights, sounds, and even the smells of the world’s oceans.” The exhibit also features an art gallery, interactive activities, and live animal exhibits.

A necessary conversation

This is about more than an experience. “If we don’t change direction significantly,” Schubel warns, “it’s a very grim future.”

Douglas McCauley, Ph.D. of the McCauley Lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is impressed. “What I think is special about Pacific Visions is that they’re adding more of a purpose to the aquarium experience. This is a rapidly changing time for the oceans. The decisions we are making right now will define the next century of ocean health.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher. “Depending on how you do the math, something like half the world’s oxygen, or every other breath, is coming from the oceans,” McCauley notes. “From our lungs to our stomachs, we need things from the oceans that are critical to our survival. We all need to get involved — which is what Pacific Visions is trying to do, to deputize us all as Jane and Jacques Cousteaus.”

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