Author: Anna

Climate Change and the Oceans

Climate Change and the Oceans

Op-Ed: To save the Earth, think like a ‘blue water’ sailor (not like an ‘ocean-going’ whale)

The world is undergoing what is described by some as a ‘climate crisis’. There are already more people living in extreme poverty than at any time in history – a record-high 1.7 billion – and yet the poorest regions of the world have the lowest rates of development, according to some models. According to these models, the world has only so much global development potential to go around.

The world is currently experiencing a warming global atmosphere that has been triggered by emissions from fossil fuels. This warming is leading to increases in extreme heat and ocean acidification, which are the defining features of ‘climate change’. Climate change is also leading to extreme rainfall events, with rising numbers of people trapped on the margins of their home countries. The human population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2045.

It is clear that the global community will need to embark upon a major transformation of the economy and the human relationship to nature over the next few decades if we are to avoid a global catastrophe. The changes required are many and diverse and will require that individuals, businesses and governments come together around common goals.

We know that climate change is occurring but what does this mean for marine coastlines and the environment within them? The changes that are already occurring are already having devastating impacts on the ocean, land and atmosphere; for example, rising sea levels are causing the entire Pacific to rise by up to four metres. This means that the coastal defences built to protect against flooding are becoming more and more unviable as the sea level rises as a result.

Warming oceans

Warming oceans are already causing problems for human society, causing them to grow even more acidic to the point where coral reefs are beginning to die. While the scientific community is still struggling to determine exactly how much of this is due to increasing temperatures and how much is due to anthropogenic emissions, our current rate of change is unprecedented.

The United Nations

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