Jesse, perhaps the Nature article, Ocean Science: The power of plankton, might be a basis for the dialogue.
Paul Falkowski posed the question, Do tiny floating microorganisms in the ocean's surface waters play a massive role in controlling the global climate?
Summarily the answer is “yes”. They play a huge role cycling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the biosphere and back.
Unfortunately that roll is being hampered by global warming, caused in part by burning the remains of long dead phytoplankton that have been converted to oil.
An Oregon State University study Falkowski worked on confirmed the earlier work of Dalhousie researchers, also published in Nature in the article, Global phytoplankton decline over the past century, that the over heating ocean is becoming increasingly thermally stratified which negatively impact phytoplankton that are the base of the ocean food chain and the lungs of the planet.
In fact they created our oxygen-rich environment.
The Dalhousie researchers postulated that the volume of phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, which produce half of the oxygen in the atmosphere has been declining steadily for the past half century — down about 40 per cent since 1950.
Both groups concluded that the phytoplankton, that are plant life and require sunlight, are cut off from the nutrients they require from deeper, colder, waters by the thermal stratification.
Falkowski’s concludes his paper with the statement, “Ultimately, the microorganisms in the ocean will survive, as they have for billions of years, and they will help restore Earth to a biogeochemical steady state. If we can understand them better, perhaps we can help them help humanity survive as well.”
President Reagan once postulated Earth would unite against a threat by "a power from outer space."
It is more likely that threat originates in our oceans and it is time for the US to confront the same.