More than 60 student members of UCSB Associated Students’ Environmental Affairs Board spent Saturday in kayaks to demand strong and timely action to curb global climate change.

The demonstration highlighted student engagement and concern about the lack of international cooperation to reduce emissions. Students recognize that global changes will have a direct impact on the local environment, including the Santa Barbara Channel. Community leaders, including 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, also recognized the importance of this action.

“I support EAB’s right of peaceful assembly in its efforts to raise awareness in our local community and beyond,” Farr said.

The event was part of a global movement sponsored by that featured similar demonstrations at the pyramids in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in France and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

The goal of the effort was to send a clear message to world leaders calling for aggressive steps to reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million. That is the level that climate experts, including NASA scientist James Hansen, have identified as the upper limit to avoid dangerous temperature rise.

EAB chose to locate its demonstration in the waters off UCSB and Isla Vista as a way to energize the student community and call attention to looming local impacts from climate change.

“We organized this event to stress the need for real energy solutions,” EAB Day of Action coordinator Quentin Gee said. “Drilling off our coast perpetuates fossil fuel dependence and is a temporary fix to a serious and long-term problem.”

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, whose vessel accompanied the kayakers, pointed out the grave consequences of escalating carbon dioxide levels for the channel. “Even seemingly small changes in sea water pH as a result of rising atmospheric CO2 levels will change the balance of life in our ocean,”Channelkeeper science director Jessie Altstatt said. “Altering ocean chemistry spells bad news for urchins, sea stars, snails and other animals that build hard shells from elements dissolved in seawater. Life in the oceans, as we know it, may disappear.”

— Scott Bull represents the UCSB Associated Students’ Environmental Affairs Board.