The alarming links between climate, ocean and cryosphere

The alarming links between climate, ocean and cryosphere


Posted on: October 2, 2019 7:28 pm
by: David Suzuki

In every scenario the IPCC examined, it found extreme sea level events that previously occurred every 100 years will likely happen every year by 2050 at many locations. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre via Flickr)

We’ve been dumping oil, plastic, toxic chemicals, radioactive sludge, sewage and fishing gear into the ocean for decades.

We depend on oceans for so much, including half the oxygen that keeps us alive! They’re a source of protein for many people worldwide, and they absorb much of the rising heat from our indiscriminate fossil fuel burning. So, why do we treat them so badly?

An alarming new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear the link between climate, ocean and the cryosphere (places where water is in solid form, as ice or snow, including the Arctic and Antarctic, glaciers, permafrost, ice shelves, icebergs and sea ice).

The “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” concludes that unnaturally rapid, human-caused global warming is altering oceans and the cryosphere faster and at a much larger scale than predicted earlier. When ice and snow cover shrink under higher global temperatures, we can expect increasing landslides, avalanches, floods, wildfires and risks to water availability and quality. We’ll also feel impacts on “recreational activities, tourism, and cultural assets.”

Without serious action to address the crisis, severe impacts will continue to increase.

The ocean is talking the brunt of the excess heating, about 90 per cent. Without serious action to address the crisis, severe impacts will continue to increase.

The IPCC notes greenhouse gas emissions and other human activity have already warmed the planet 1 C above pre-industrial levels. “There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.”

The report — by more than 100 authors from 36 countries who referenced about 7,000 scientific publications — found that, because greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for many years, already occurring trends will likely accelerate, including diminishing marine life, increasing storms, melting permafrost and shrinking ice caps. If we fail to reduce emissions and take other measures to slow global heating, the consequences will be far worse.

The IPCC has projected sea level rise by 2100 to be 10 centimetres more than it predicted in 2014 — between 61 and 110 centimetres — mainly because Antarctic ice is melting faster than expected. The IPCC tends to be conservative in its estimates. Others predict sea levels could rise by as much as 238 centimetres if we don’t get emissions under control.

The researchers say that, even if warming is kept below 2 C, we can expect trillions of dollars in coastal damage every year and millions of migrants fleeing from coasts, now home to about two billion people.

The researchers say that, even if warming is kept below 2 C, we can expect trillions of dollars in coastal damage every year and millions of migrants fleeing from coasts, now home to about two billion people.

In every scenario the IPCC examined, it found extreme sea level events that previously occurred every 100 years will likely happen every year by 2050 at many locations. These include more intense, frequent tropical storms with stronger winds and more rainfall, increasing harm to kelp forests and other important ecosystems, coral reef destruction, declining food fisheries and increased flooding from rising sea levels. Loss of ice and snow cover also causes feedback loops that speed up warming, as snow and ice reflect heat while dark surfaces absorb it.

A OneOcean initiative news release points out that three of the most serious impacts of climate breakdown on the ocean — acidification, heating and deoxygenation — have been present in every mass extinction in Earth’s history. This severity means controlling other stressors is critical. “Overfishing, pollution, destruction of habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity are all stressors that can be stopped in order to support the resilience of the ocean to withstand the climate crisis,” the release says.

As with all climate-related problems, there’s no shortage of solutions; we just need the political will to implement them.

OneOcean recommends protecting under international law the two-thirds of ocean that makes up the high seas (those areas outside national jurisdictions), curtailing overfishing and pollution, strengthening biodiversity targets and tackling climate disruption in every way possible.

Our profligate burning of fossil fuels and destruction of water and land areas that absorb excess carbon have already set unavoidable consequences in motion, but it’s not too late to avoid the most dire costs of climate disruption. We all need to heed the science and get on with solutions.

View the full article from the original source

About the Author


David Suzuki

David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. David is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way.

Education

As a geneticist. David graduated from Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1958 with an Honours BA in Biology, followed by a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961. He held a research associateship in the Biology Division of Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Lab (1961 – 62), was an Assistant Professor in Genetics at the University of Alberta (1962 – 63), and since then has been a faculty member of the University of British Columbia. He is now Professor Emeritus at UBC.

Awards

In 1972, he was awarded the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship for the outstanding research scientist in Canada under the age of 35 and held it for three years. He has won numerous academic awards and holds 25 honourary degrees in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and is a Companion of the Order of Canada. Dr. Suzuki has written 52 books, including 19 for children. His 1976 textbook An Introduction to Genetic Analysis(with A.J.F. Griffiths), remains the most widely used genetics text book in the U.S.and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Indonesian, Arabic, French and German.

Find Out More

Head over the the David Suzuki Foundation website to find out more at http://ibew993.org/faq/

 

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