Rising Sea Levels Essay Samples
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Water, Sea, World, Internet, Ocean, Rising Sea Levels, Environment, Environmental Issues
The human race is affecting the stability of our planet’s ecosystem. Because our lifestyle – especially the extensive use of fossil fuels – is causing dramatic increases in the CO2 levels in the atmosphere which trap heat, not only will temperatures continue to rise, but so will the global sea levels. The accelerating rise of the sea levels is a consequence of rapid melting of the polar ice sheets. Current predictions suggest that the cumulative sea level rise over the next hundred years will be circa six feet. Although the USA’s population is only four percent of the world’s total, its greenhouse gas emissions cause over a fifth of the planet’s total emissions (“Learn More” n.d.).
According to the National Ocean Service (part of the NOAA), not only is the sea level rate of rise increasing, but that trend will continue for the rest of this century, whereas studies have shown that before 1900, there had been little change for hundreds of years. During the twentieth century, the combined effects of the melting polar ice caps and the thermal expansion of the water in the world’s oceans due to rising temperatures have produced sea level rises of between 0.04 and 0.1 inches annually. Whilst that may not sound a lot, an annual rise of 0.1 inches equates to a rise of 10 inches over the century. Furthermore, because the rate is believed to be accelerating, as confirmed by satellite-based measurements, the effects could be more serious than currently thought (“Is sea level rising?” 2014).
Although the climate change causing rising sea levels has other adverse effects like more storms, it is the rising sea levels which threaten many of the world’s cities, which are situated on or near coasts. In historical terms most major cities were established relatively recently, although when sea levels were still relatively stable. However, human activity since industrialization has changed that situation. Although the actual amount of future sea level rise is uncertain, there is little doubt that there will be a major impact on over 600 million people residing in coastal areas worldwide. Vast areas of land will be inundated, which will be a major problem for nations with limited resources. Some of the smaller island nations do not have enough land for their peoples to relocate away from the coast, and their fresh water resources are very likely to be contaminated by salt water (“Oceans & Sea Level Rise: Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans” n.d.).
According to a paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the rising sea levels will have a severe effect on tidal marshlands, like those along the coast of Georgia. Modelling of possible scenarios suggests that the marsh areas could decline by almost 40 percent by the year 2100 (Craft et al. 2009).
However, although many scientific sources are in general agreement about forecasts of rising sea levels, some suggest that because past estimates have been flawed, the predicted rises may be overstated or exaggerated. Furthermore, according to a 2009 Bloomberg report, the effect of the rising sea levels on the world’s coastal areas will be variable due to gravitational effects (Morales 2009).
The majority of the research and published literature indicate that not only is global warming caused by human activity a real and serious problem, but it is the root cause of rising sea levels. Furthermore, although some suggest that the predicted sea level rises are overstated, most authoritative studies indicate that not only are the sea level rises real but may be accelerating. The effect of those rising levels will impact coastal areas around the world, which include many of the world’s large cities. Vast areas of coastal land could be lost, affecting the lives of around 600 million people worldwide.
Craft, Christopher, Clough, Jonathan, Ehmann, Guo, Hongyuo Jeff, Joye, Hongyu, Machmuller, Megan, Park, Richard, Pennings, Samantha, Steve. Forecasting the effects of accelerated sea-level rise on tidal marsh ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7: 73-78. Web. 2009. Accessed February 6, 2015. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/070219>.
“Is sea level rising?” (Revised Apr. 2014). National Ocean Service. Web. Accessed February 06 2015. URL: <http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html>.
“Learn More.” (n.d.). stopglobalwarming.org. Web. Accessed February 6 2015. URL: <http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/learn/>.
Morales, Alex. (May 2009). “West Antarctic’s Sea-Level Rise May Be Overstated, Study Shows.” Bloomberg. Web. Accessed February 6 2015. URL: <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aybKq5T2Ek2o>.
“Oceans & Sea Level Rise: Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans.” (n.d.). The Climate Institute. Web. Accessed February 6 2015. URL: <http://www.climate.org/topics/sea-level/>.