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The importance of oceans and how they relate to climate change


DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) – Saturday is World Oceans Day, a United Nations international day designed to draw attention to the role oceans play in our lives and on our planet and to coordinate actions to improve their quality retain.

World Oceans Day also aims to raise awareness of how human actions affect the ocean, including overfishing, pollution/waste dumping and the burning of fossil fuels.

According to the UN, the oceans cover 70 percent of the planet and provide 50 percent of its oxygen. The agency also says that by 2030, 40 million people will be employed in ocean-related industries.

The vast ecosystem is also home to the world’s largest collection of biodiversity and supplies food and medicine to almost the entire planet.

But human activities such as dumping waste, overfishing and burning fossil fuels are taking their toll. Now 90 percent of major fish populations are depleted and 50 percent of coral reefs have been destroyed.

What makes the problem even more acute are the consequences of burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels causes the atmosphere to warm due to the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

The effects are well documented and include warmer temperatures (globally), changed precipitation patterns (more extreme floods in some places, more extreme droughts in others), more wildfires and wetter tropical cyclones that could lead to more damage from storm surges (combined with sea level rise ).

The oceans are important for storing excess carbon because they are the world’s largest carbon sink and regulate our climate. But a warming planet and a changing climate due to the burning of fossil fuels are having significant impacts on the ocean.

Warmer oceans cause ice caps and glaciers to melt. This is especially important at the poles. In 2023, a study The record low Antarctic sea ice found is the result of climate change. In the Northern Hemisphere, Arctic sea ice in 2023 was the fifth highest in 45 years.

When this ice melts, it causes sea levels to rise. This causes a host of problems, including rising groundwater levels, saltwater intrusion into freshwater habitats, saltwater intrusion into aquifers (drinking water sources), and higher storm surges, putting more coastal areas at risk from the effects of damaging tropical cyclones.

Several fish and marine species have already changed their migration paths and their habitats due to global warming and water warming. Warmer water also leads to heat waves at sea, putting pressure on aquatic organisms and habitats.

Additionally, more carbon dioxide in the water makes it more acidic. The consequences are fatal for sensitive organisms such as coral. Coral bleaching results, killing coral reefs and the life that depends on them.

When a player is removed from an ecosystem, it leads to the collapse of the ecosystem, which can have a butterfly effect with negative environmental, health and economic consequences on a global scale.

To combat these problems, the UN suggests different solutions. These include restoring vegetation (such as mangroves) and protecting coral, investing in cleaner energy sources, reducing CO2 emissions from shipping (green shipping) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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