An ever-increasing volume of publications on the changing ocean environment underscores the requirement for long-term observations to understand and predict ocean and climate change. Such observations must be globally distributed and carried out over long time periods. But a means of obtaining those observations—particularly in the ocean—is not in place today. There is no global system of routinely funded, long-term, high-quality measurements to provide the necessary understanding of climate in general and the ocean in particular. The scientific literature is full of examples of tantalizing short records that do not illuminate the physical problems. Long-term biological measurements are in an even more limited state of development. With society demanding better forecasts, and the need to quantify the human role in climate change, it is more important than ever that we find ways to establish the necessary institutional basis for and achieve the proper levels of funding for long-term measurements.