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When heat is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by certain gases, it is termed the “greenhouse effect”. In excess quantities these “greenhouse gases”, such as carbon dioxide and methane, become a main source of higher ocean temperatures and climate change.
As the ocean absorbs an abnormally high amount of carbon dioxide, its pH level decreases, causing it to become more acidic. As the ocean warms because of trapped heat, it leads to an increase of natural disasters. With the ocean affecting both sea and land life, animals and other organisms in all environments are slowly being forced to relocate to more suitable environments for food and safety.
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Changes in biodiversity across the planet are increasing and accelerating as heatwaves and seawater acidification affects underwater species, and more natural disasters along with a rising sea level affect land animals and human populations.
Colder climates slowly rising in temperature has motivated underwater animals like fish to migrate to cooler environments for food and the right habitat. Acidification caused by excess carbon dioxide is directly affecting coral reefs and shellfish, stressing their livelihood by creating difficulty in their shell and skeletal growing processes. In colder habitats partially submerged in water, ice sheets are starting to erode and melt, affecting land animals like polar bears.
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Effects on Weather
On land, a rising sea level has begun to cause an influx of flooding, and the abnormally high temperatures have shown to produce more heatwaves, droughts, with wildfires as a result. In the United States, the California region has already been affected by climate change. Within the 2022 state document by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) titled, “Indicators of Climate Change in California”, it is noted that California has become increasingly dry, and that the overly frequent switches between dry and wet weather conditions are the reason behind the area’s flooding and droughts.
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Innovation and Change
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides an illustration of the sectors with the highest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions along with possible solutions to reduce the excess emissions. Among the sectors with the most emissions like electricity, transportation and industry, the following solutions were suggested: fuel-switching, increased energy efficiency through technological innovation, and further implementation of zoning policies.
The Paris Agreement is one example of an intergovernmental treaty by the United Nations that guides participating countries towards reducing emissions and limiting temperature increases globally. The treaty is legally binding and submission of an action plan is required by each country every five years. This agreement has already inspired new zero-carbon solutions that could support a safer planet for both sea and land life. To read more on the Paris Agreement, see the related article on the United Nations website.
Written by Miette Broussard
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