Oceans are warming at an alarming rate, according to an article on ScienceDaily. In 2018, the oceans were recorded as being the warmest they’ve ever been, as they were in 2017, 2016, and 2015. The Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5), a collaborative effort created at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California designed to increase knowledge of climate change, calculates that ocean temperatures will rise by 0.78 degrees Celsius before the end of the century, increasing sea levels by 30 centimetres. This, plus glaciers melting at an increasing rate means even higher sea levels.
Since about 93 per cent of extra solar energy trapped by the atmosphere ends up trapped in the oceans, they are heating and rising at an increasing rate, meaning oceanic species are being affected, and the rise in sea level is contributing to coastal flooding, as well as an increase in frequency and strength of tropical storms.
But these aren’t the only problems: increased greenhouse gas emissions leads to changing migration patterns in animals (birds migrate later in the season), changes in dates of plants’ activity (flowers bloom earlier in the season), the atmosphere itself is heating up (causing this lovely ocean heating and glacier melting), and extremes in weather are increasing (occurrences of lightning and hurricanes have increased in the last few years).
So, what can you do about the increase in greenhouse gas emissions? Choose renewable energy, take transit or bike to work/school, consume less items (less items = less packaging making its way into landfills), reduce the amount of meat you’re eating.
Unfortunately, the problem is that most greenhouse gas emissions come from big companies. According to the CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017, a publication that draws from The Carbon Majors Database (which collects info on greenhouse gas emissions created by companies), they’re tracking 100 fossil fuel companies who, at present, have emitted more than 923 billion tonnes of CO2. Some of the top companies include Suncor, Husky, Petrobas, Chevron, and Lukoil.
Most of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of these companies. So why aren’t they doing anything? Well, they are — sort of. According to an article in the Guardian, 81 per cent of the world’s 500 largest companies have set goals to reduce their emissions. However, what these goals are and how they believe they’ll enact them aren’t clear.
What I find most disheartening about climate change is that we’ve known about our contribution to it for years. According to the Guardian, precise measurements of carbon dioxide were taken in 1958; in the 1960s, computer models of global climate change confirmed that greenhouse gases do affect the climate; in the 1980s, global temperatures began their steady rise; and, as of 2018, 16 out of 17 of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.
I don’t understand why it’s taken this long for anyone to realize that, yeah, climate change is very real and very scary. There’s been evidence of it for years, yet only in the past decade or so, when the evidence of it has become too big to ignore, that people start to say “Maybe we should do something about it” when we should have done something a long time ago.
Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but maybe it’s not too late to turn this around. We can do what we can (go green as much as possible), but it’s the companies that need to step in, cut their losses, and do their part. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see my favourite beaches swallowed up because we (society, large companies) took too long to do something about it.
Image: Caleb Campbell/The Cascade