You know all those amazing beaches that you’ve always dreamt of visiting? Well, you may have a chance, but it’s very doubtful that the next generation will, if the current trends continue.
The average 2 degrees Centigrade of predicted warming, that we probably won’t feel, still means a lot: the slight change will cause thermal expansion, causing the swelling of the water, and resulting in the rise in sea levels. Then, the same increase in temperature will lead to glacier and ice land masses to melt.
The rise in ocean levels is a threat to the natural and physical features, but also poses a risk of the overflow of waterways and flooding of coastal infrastructure and the populations which live along the coasts.
How many world metropolises can you think of that are situated on the coast? New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Lima, Tokyo, Jakarta, Shanghai, Manila, Mumbai, Karachi, Lagos – 10 of them in the top 20.
Their combined population is about 2.5 billion.
This year, the 20th anniversary of World Oceans Day, is intended to change our perspective and what the Big Blue provides for us, as well as change our ways in taking care of water resources.
The majority of sustainable development issues link dependency on water and water conservation with combating hunger, malnutrition and famine. Basically, we need to find better solutions to increase water use efficiently to meet the nutritional needs of existing populations.
Even though our planet is covered with 70% water, the majority of it – 98% – is saline, and therefore cannot be used for drinking or irrigation, which is where our urgent needs lie. Furthermore, the majority of the remaining 2% of fresh water on the planet is found in ice caps and glaciers.
So, the current available freshwater, a small fraction of the total supply, in aquifers, wells, lakes and rivers, are at a risk of contamination due to various manufacturing and unsanitary practices.
Those 70%? Think of it this way: they play a part, 100% of it, in the natural cycle of our planet, such as cleaning our drinking water via runoffs and evaporation.
With 1 billion people in the world without access to basic and reliable water supplies, and 2 billion lacking basic sanitation, our number one priority must be water: how to equitably share the available supplies, how to avoid its contamination and pollution, and how to increase the lifecycle of our natural resource.
Our continuous unsustainable practices have made water a very expensive and coveted resource: in 20-years time our demand for fresh water will be almost twice the amount of the available supply.
The changes in ocean elements, such as temperature, salinity, pH levels (acidification is a result of climate change) and currents will affect the distribution and abundance of seafood, an important source of protein and a staple for the majority of coastal populations.
In fact, climate change is not even a question of future: it’s already happening, the change is already taking place.
The world population is growing, our ecological footprint is growing, and we are already stretched beyond our limits: our development standards are simply unsustainable.