We have upset the carbon cycle by burning too many fossil fuels within a short duration — releasing significant amounts of carbon dioxide that had been stored for millennia into the atmosphere. Because the Earth’s systems are interconnected, adding excessive CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the air has reportedly trapped heat in, and the overheating planet is impacting everything from the ocean currents to weather.
A worrying sign is the probable collapse of the Gulf Stream, officially known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.
Ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, and moves the heat from the equator to the poles, regulating both climatic and weather patterns. The Gulf Stream is known for carrying warm Atlantic water north where it sinks and cools, driving Atlantic currents. Researchers say that fresh water from the melting
Greenland ice cap as well as other sources could alter the currents, weakening the Gulf Stream to the point of near collapse.
A new study reflects that this could happen anytime from 2025 to 2095 if we do not lower our global carbon emissions quickly. Per the Guardian, such a collapse is likely to have disastrous impacts all over the world, disrupting the rains that billions of individuals depend on for food in India, west Africa, and South America. It would also increase the storms and drop the temperatures in Europe, resulting in a rising sea level on North America’s eastern coast. It would further be endangering the Amazon rainforest and the Antarctic ice sheets.
Such effects would have their own effects, resulting in feedback loops as well as tipping points as the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue rising.
As for the warming waters of the Atlantic, the ocean around the Florida Keys hit an all-time world record for the surface temperature, at over 38 C — as warm as a nice, hot tub.
Normal temperatures in the zone typically range between 23 C and 31 C around this time of year.
On the Pacific side, high temperatures in the Salish Sea off the northeastern Vancouver Island have been cooking the kelp.
Scientists have also found that ocean heat waves are increasing rapidly around the world, killing kelp, shellfish, corals, and many other marine lives. The research also discovered that heat waves are now more frequent, severe, and prolonged with the number of heat wave days tripling over the last couple of years studied, per the Guardian.
The heat dome of 2021 took the lives of over one billion marine animals off the coast of British Columbia. As we rely on the oceans for so much — medicine, oxygen, food, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, transportation, recreation, and storm protection — the damage impacts all.
The good part is that the world is starting to recognize how essential the ocean is and how poorly we have been treating it. Canada has joined several other countries in committing to safeguard 30% of its entire marine territory by 2030 and to help efforts to safeguard international waters.
The government has also declared a moratorium on deep-sea mining besides setting a target for new national marine conservation zones.
Canada further joined other countries in signing a high seas treaty that comes up with a legal framework for setting up a chain of marine protected areas in international waters and also includes requirements for environmental impact assessments in places that are beyond national jurisdictions.
But this is not enough.
The sad state of the ocean is yet another symptom of excessive lifestyles, fuelled by climate-altering and polluting gas, coal, and oil.
Taking patchwork approaches for addressing interconnected critical issues while maintaining the status quo in economics as well as lifestyles is too little and too late.
We ought to challenge our outdated systems that propel waste and overconsumption, poverty, and pollution.
Efforts have been made to insert relatively recent economic schemes into the planetary processes we hardly understand, elevating us and the ideas above nature, and justifying the rapid and rampant exploitation of all that is around us. As we learn in-depth about how the networks of nature interact and operate, we also have to learn how to work with them rather than by going against them.
The ocean has been sending a warning. We do not have much time left.
References: WION, David Suzuki Foundation
Shipping News You Would Like:
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.
Latest Shipping News You Would Like:
Get the Latest Maritime News Delivered to Your Inbox!
Our free, fast, and fun newsletter on the global maritime industry, delivered everyday.