It would bring us golden memories and oceans of tears when we hear beautiful songs such as Nina and Fredrick’s “Listen to the ocean” in which they sing in harmony about echoes of a million sea shells about the ocean that is forever in motion, moving to a rhythmic unwritten music that is played eternally. Motivational speakers or writers have also used beautiful symbolism in telling us to search every sea until we find our dream.
An increasingly selfish, self-centred and greedy world has changed that. As we marked or commemorated World Oceans Day on Monday, it was more a case of going through stormy seas amid warnings of what would happen if the ocean levels continue to rise due to higher temperatures resulting from climate change.
According to the National Geographic Magazine, scientific research indicates sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches a year since the early 1990s. The trend puts thousands of coastal cities, like Venice in ltaly and even whole islands at risk of being claimed by the ocean. Over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches. However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.
The burning of fossil fuels and other human and natural activities have released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. These emissions have caused the earth’s surface temperature to rise and the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat, the widely-read magazine says.
The rise in sea levels is linked to three primary factors, all induced by this ongoing global climate change:
Thermal expansion: When water heats up, it expands. About half of the past century’s rise in sea level is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
Melting of glaciers and polar ice caps.
Ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica.
According to National Geographic, when sea levels rise rapidly, as they have been doing, even a small increase can have devastating effects on coastal habitats. As seawater reaches farther inland, it can cause destructive erosion, flooding of wetlands, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soils, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants.
When large storms hit land, higher sea levels mean bigger, more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path. In addition, hundreds of millions of people live in areas that will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. Low-lying islands could be submerged completely.
Most predictions say the warming of the planet will continue and probably accelerate. Oceans are likely to continue to rise. A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet by 2100. More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, could make sea levels rise to 23 feet, enough to submerge London. Sri Lanka also beware the world’s oceans play a key role for life on earth. According to the United Nations, they are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe, a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere.
In the past few decades, the threats from pollution, overfishing, excessive heat and other forms of exploitation to marine habitats have increased dramatically.
According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, oceans are an essential component of the earth’s ecosystem. Healthy oceans are critical to sustaining a healthy planet since they regulate the climate and process nutrients through natural cycles. The oceans also provide a wide range of services, including natural resources, food and jobs that benefit billions of people. The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like our hearts pumping blood to every part of our bodies, the ocean connects people across the earth, no matter where we live. The ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines, and so much more. To ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it is imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.