Save oceans before they destroy you - GulfToday

Save oceans before they destroy you

Sea Level Rising

A storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean hits a break wall in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. Reuters

In the movie The Day After Tomorrow, a climatologist is snubbed by UN officials when presenting his worries over global warming. Then a massive “superstorm” breaks out, with disastrous consequences not just for the United States, but also for the world.

The film is a work of fiction, but US President Donald Trump should take a reality check, particularly as he thinks climate change is a hoax – before it is too late.

In recent months, alarm bells have been sounded over the rising pace of global warming and the parlous state of Nature.

But there is another area of concern that has partially been given the go-by: the role that oceans play.

Oceans are crucial to life on Earth, yet they frequently only feature in the ecological debate when plastic pollution or fish-stock declines are discussed.

As greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere climb ever higher, so do sea levels; oceans currently encroach on the land around 3.3 millimetres (0.13 inches) a year, and the rate is accelerating.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released a landmark report in October 2018 warning of the effects of global temperature rises, will this September publish its latest assessment on the state of oceans.

The last IPCC assessment, in 2014, predicted that sea levels could rise as much as a metre (3.3 feet) by the end of the century.

But more recent studies using more varied scenario planning have said that current warming trends could lift the seas as much as two metres by 2100.

According to an IPCC official, the threats to the world’s oceans include: surface warming, ocean heating, deoxygenation and acidification.

Oceans absorb around a third of all manmade CO2, and 90 per cent of the excess heat created by those emissions goes into the sea.

In doing so, the ocean surface heats and becomes more acidic, something that has already decimated coral populations on reefs throughout the seas.

Talking of the seas, tsunamis may become more frequent as global warming changes the earth’s crust, scientists said at a meet nearly ten years ago in London. The 2004 tsunami wreaked unspeakable havoc in several countries.

Already there is a lot of waste flooding the seas, and they are choking marine life. As part of World Oceans Day, people are doing their bit to clean up the sea waters. For instance, thousands of volunteers plucked plastic and other waste products from the rocks and beaches along Spain’s Basque coast, while divers took to the sea to clear garbage from the water.  

Nearly 1,000 volunteers from a multinational firm teamed up with local authorities and NGOs in the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and in North African countries to raise awareness and inspire responsible disposal of waste by cleaning up beaches.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, whose country will host the COP25 UN climate summit in December, has dedicated the conference to oceans.

Oceans contain 97 per cent of all living space on Earth and, just like forests, they help keep the atmosphere breathable. But there is a limit to how much CO2 they can absorb.

“Every second breath we take comes from oxygen produced by the ocean, so it’s time for us to make some radical changes,” said Peter Thomson, UN special envoy for oceans. Let’s join Thomson.

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