Sea Level Rise is accelerating in response to climate change and is producing significant impacts already being felt by coastal ecosystems and communities. Sea level rise (SLR) is the sum of oceanic thermal expansion, ice melt from glaciers and small ice sheets, melt and ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica, and changes in terrestrial water storage. SLR and other oceanic climate change will result in salinization – the buildup of salts in soil turning toxic – flooding and erosion, and will affect human and ecological systems, including health, heritage, fresh water, biodiversity, agriculture, fisheries, and other services. Increased heat in the upper layers of the ocean is also driving more intense storms and greater rates of inundation, which, together with SLR, are already showing significant impacts to sensitive coastal and low-lying areas. By the end of the 21st century, it is very likely that sea level will rise in more than about 95% of the ocean area; about 70% of the coastlines worldwide are projected to experience a sea level change within ±20% of the global mean.
Due to SLR, small islands, like Kiribati are already disappearing, while increasingly, unstable rainfall patterns are creating issues for countries like India, which is facing a historical heat wave with 99 percent less water than it had at the same time in 2018.
What will we do about Climate Change?
For the first time in history, scientists have accumulated immense evidence that CC is happening and that it is threatening the very existence of life on Earth, including that of the Earth itself. At the same time, we have at our disposal practical, affordable solutions to help change the impact of CC. The problem is that our global leaders’ support short-term, individual gains at the expense of long-term global objectives; and people will, habitually, only move with change when they get moved by it.
The ugly truth is that the impact of CC is not only on the natural environment, but also on people, with tremendous suffering like never before already experienced and recorded worldwide.
Climate-induced displacement is on the rise. In 2018, the UN reported approximately 16.1 million people were displaced as a result of climate-related factors. As a direct result of deserti cation, rising sea levels, and extreme weather conditions, it is estimated that by 2050 between 150 to 200 million people will be at risk of being forced to leave their homes. This means that up to 200 million people will be uprooted and unprotected by any international law. Where should these people go? Who will take responsibility?
It also means that by 2050, if we do not choose to change, water — once our most natural and readily available resource — will be in such scarce supply that demand will push its market price up, possibly to the extent that only few will have the means to be able to afford access to it. Water scarcity will occur if we continue to support contemporary agricultural practices that are turning all fertile land into desert. The topsoil is diminishing and chemicals are poisoning the land and the water. Plastic pollution in the oceans will, by 2050, weigh more than the fish that have existed in their natural habitat for millennia, and micro plastic and other pollutants will become a normal part of our meals.
Are we going to give up?
Our earth is changing and our ability to understand that path is crucial for success in the future. There is one critical difference between nature and people: we make conscious decisions about what we do.
The world is changing and some countries are adding the mitigation of CC as their government policy. Young people around the world are finding their voices and taking positive action, because they are scared for their future. Renewable energy is getting cheaper and more efficient. Very soon, CC will enter into school curriculums, but the change must happen faster.
TODAY, WE NEED TO POSITIVELY CHANGE how we choose to live before the negative change happens to us. Today, we need to put away the comfort of the lie and face the ugly truth. Today, we need to plant the seed that will have a chance of growing into a tree that our future generations have a chance of seeing. Today we need to decide that instead of being the last generation which could make the change, we will be the first generation to start it.