International Report Documents Expanded Risks from All Sides…
For decades, the human species has been treating its oceans poorly. Oil spills, pollution, overfishing, melting ice caps, and above all climate change have made our seas into perpetual punching bags. As a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows, however, the ocean is now at its most fragile. If we do not help it, then it will soon start punching back.
The report is based on an extensive review of more than six thousand studies from scientists in 36 countries and the results are voluminous and, frankly, very scary for any sane observer. These compounded dangers are becoming harder to dispute, and previously challenged assertions such as how to measure the acceleration of the rising sea levels are being more clearly defined and more confidently confirmed by scientists.
The ocean has always been one of the earth’s most crucial natural deterrents to global warming. As a pool of water that covers over seventy percent of the world’s surface, the ocean is an enormous carbon drain. Like a forest, it sucks in lots of our carbon emissions and uses it to sustain its ecosystem.
Unfortunately, as climate change evolves and accelerates, the ocean’s ability to absorb that carbon diminishes. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere that the ocean is all but overwhelmed. Simultaneously, other kinds of pollution—such as plastic or oil—are also taking their tolls on the seas’ ecosystems.
Rising Sea Levels, Extreme Weather Events, other threats are in Extreme Acceleration
The biggest threat that the ocean poses if climate change is not effectively combatted is rising water levels. The IPCC report shows that with our current level of carbon emissions, arctic ice will start to melt at a more rapid pace, and sea levels will rise significantly. By the next century, certain coastal communities and entire island nations could be uninhabitable. As a huge percentage of the world lives by the water, this could leave millions of people incredibly vulnerable.
The water is not only getting higher, though. It is also getting warmer. As the world’s temperature increases with an oversaturation of atmospheric carbon, the oceans follow suit. Water temperatures are rising and the rate of that rise is increasing.
Warmer water has already brought with it a whole new line of ecological issues. When the temperature changes, it affects marine life behavior and migratory patterns. This is impacting everything from the food chain to the fishing industry, making it a far greater issue than just a few confused fish ending up on the wrong side of the sea.
Furthermore, hurricanes thrive off of warm water, so as the ocean gets hotter, we are already seeing larger and more brutal storms washing up on our coasts. The IPCC report underscores an increased occurrence of powerful storms, with category 4 and 5 hurricanes becoming far more frequent. Flooding will also continue to occur more frequently, and beachside infrastructure will find itself in dire straits all-year around.
Dangers Lurk beyond rising Sea Levels: Pollution, Disease and Contagions Threaten to Rise as well
Then, there is also the fact that our oceans are getting dirtier. Acidification and pollution have led to the extinction of certain species, the eradication of coral reefs, and numerous health problems that find their way to the surface. More foodborne illnesses are turning up in seafood; Marine heat waves affect seabirds and amphibious mammals as well as fish; And a summer dip in the ocean may soon become a grimy bath that leaves you sick and dirty.
The ocean is powerful and beautiful. Ever since humankind evolved out of its depths millions of years ago, the great blue saltwater haven has been helping sustain us on land. Its wondrous waves and illustrious currents have inspired many, and mystified even more. Conscienceless as a silent part of this humble planet we call home, the ocean has asked for nothing in return for her millions of years of ecological service. Now, however, in no small part due to our exploitative nature, she is suffering. If we do not help her now when she is desperate, then her years of docility will soon run out, and we will feel her wrath.
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