Free «Rising Sea Levels» Essay Sample

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During the long history of the earth, sea levels around the world have fluctuated, rising when global warming occurred and falling during the ice ages. The most recent ice age ended more than eleven thousand years ago. The earth is currently experiencing global warming, which has been encouraged by the presence of heat trapping gases that are found in the atmosphere. Majority of the coastal cities on earth now were established some few millennia ago. This was a period when the sea level was constant. From the mid-nineteenth century, the sea level has been rising due to climate change which is human induced. In the twentieth century, the sea level rose by approximately two millimeters per year, but now days it has risen. Some factors that cause a rise in sea level include the melting of ice caps and glaciers, the loss of ice from the west Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and thermal expansion. This rise in the level of sea levels is dangerous to the lives of human beings. It affects our lives negatively, and something should be done to contain the situation.

            According to the book “Environmental philosophy from animals to radical ecology,” “records from tide gauges that date back to a hundred years clearly indicate a steady rise in the average sea level, which equals to about one or two inches every twenty five years. This rate is steadily increasing. The environmental protection agency has now predicted a global sea level rise of around ten to fifteen inches by the year twenty fifteen, and an additional thirty inches to more than seven feet by twenty one hundred. The reasons for the rise of the current seal level are the proliferations and preferences that human beings across the world have, of developing and living along coastal areas.” For instance, it is estimated that about seventy five of Americans live on the coast or within fifty miles from the coast. The rise in sea levels will lead to pollution, erosion, storm damage and flooding of the coastal areas. All these will result in the destruction of bridges, coastal roads, docks, piers, waterfront property, jetties and breakwaters. Water from the seas might intrude and contaminate supplies of groundwater while at the same time threatening hazardous-waste sites and landfills. Most of the nine hundred estuaries found in America, where rivers in the coast merge with the coast, would be damaged in a number of ways. Others would be more vulnerable as compared to others based on their location. This vulnerability will also be varied because of the amount of shore line development and geology. This would lead to estuaries along the gulf and Atlantic coasts to be majorly hard hit, while the steep walled, deep, fjord-type estuaries like those found in the Alaskan and British Columbia coast would be affected the least. In Oregon, coos bay would be among the estuaries that have the potential of being seriously harmed. When sea levels have risen, salt water will further intrude into the estuary, hence increasing salinity of the estuary by moving the salt further upstream. Destructive organisms like gribbles, shipworms and barnacles, which require high levels of salinity for survival, would attack wooden structures in every place that they thrive. This leads to increased pollution because the increased salinity results in alteration of flushing and mixing rates of the estuary. “This may lead to adjacent wetlands encroaching saline water. These tidal wetlands act as nurseries to most of the shellfishes and marine fishes, also filter several pollutants that are dangerous which creeks and rivers carry downstream to the estuary. They also reduce the effects of floods and storms. Productive and rich tidal flats, which are normally exposed on low tides, might be swallowed up and left inaccessible to human beings and animals. There would also be an alteration of deposition patterns of sediments that bear nutrients. This could starve the whole populations of organisms that dwell bottom in the sea or water. The increase in sea levels seems to be inevitable, and experts have warned that we should be ready for an average increase of 2.4 feet by the year 2040.”

            Another effect of the rise in sea levels is the loss of that would have otherwise been used for development. These billions of money will be used for adaptation for those few countries that can afford it. For instance, the United States of America roughly has about twelve thousand four hundred miles of coastline and about nineteen thousand, nine hundred miles of coastal wetlands.  A recent study showed that adapting to even a meter of sea level rise in America would cost about one hundred and fifty six billion. “For most counties, especially the developing nations, this sum is not affordable. Some nations like the Maldives islands would be submerged in case there was a rise of the sea level by one meter. Already, some of the islands that make up the Kiribati Island, which is an island nation on the pacific, have submerged. A wave that can be compared with a rise in sea level hit the nation in early 2005.” It washed away farmlands, led to contamination of well waters with salt water, and flooded homes and hospitals. So, if this current trend of global warming, which leads to rise in sea levels, continues, cities like Bangkok, London and New York might end up below the sea level, hence displacing very many people and causing excessive massive economic damage. In Egypt, for example, Alexandria would be submerged in water in case the sea level rose by one meter. The protective measure of building higher and higher sea walls has become impractical, and even the richest nations can’t do anything as they see their coastal cities flood. The effect of rising sea levels goes beyond flooding. Rising sea levels may lead to contamination of both underground and surface fresh water supplies, which might worsen the already existing shortage of fresh water in the world. Underground water sources in china, Israel, Vietnam and Thailand are already facing the problem of their underground water sources being contaminated by salt water contamination. Another effect that the rise in sea water levels might cause is the wiping out of rural farmlands and populations, especially rice. For instance, according to the United Kingdom royal society, an increase in the sea levels by one meter may result in flooding of seventeen percent of “Bangladesh, which is among the poorest nations on earth, leading to displacement of millions of people, and reducing its land for rice farming by more than fifty percent.”

According to Environmental philosophy from animals to radical ecology” page 105, paragraph 2, “the intergovernmental panel on climate change has indicated that sea level has been rising from 1993 by 3.1 millimeters per year. The world wild life fund has reported that island nations that are low lying, mostly in the equatorial region, will be the most affected by the increase in sea level. Some might even disappear totally for good. In the central pacific for instance, rising seas have swallowed two islands that were uninhabited.” If this rise in sea level continues, it will mean that those cities that lie in the coastal regions are most likely going to be submerged, hence loss of lives and property. “Another example is Samoa, where people have been forced to move to other inland places because shorelines have already retreated by about one hundred and sixty feet. The inhabitants of Tuvalu islands are struggling and scrambling to find new homes because intrusion of salt water has made their water unusable for domestic purposes, while at the same time ocean swells and strong hurricanes have destroyed structures in the shoreline. If this trend continues, it will mean that land that is available for use by human beings will be reduced. This might lead to displacement of millions of people who occupy the coastal region. Farmlands found along the coastal region will also be destroyed, and hence agricultural production will reduce.”

            Continued rise in the level of seas will lead to destruction of local plant, coastal ecosystems and wild life populations in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. In Bangladesh, for instance, mangrove forests, which usually act as very significant buffers that help prevent tidal waves and storms, have given way for sea water due its rising level.

According to Zimmerman, in his “Environmental philosophy from animals to radical ecology,” page 172, paragraph 2, “global warming that seems to be uncontrollable will lead to melting of the three major ice sheets in decades to come. If the west Antarctic ice sheet was to melt, it would raise the sea level by almost nineteen feet. If the Greenland ice sheet melted, it would mean that the sea level would rise by twenty four feet. In the event that the east Antarctic ice sheet melted, sea level would rise by one hundred and seventy foot. In total, the sea would rise by about two hundred and thirteen feet if all the ice melted, this rise in oceans could be enough to submerge the one hundred and fifty foot tall statue of liberty.” “Therefore, this rise in the level of sea water is endangering the lives of human beings because man will no longer have land to occupy and carry out his activities, since all the most productive land will have been submerged. After considering all the reasons above, it is clear that when the level of seas rises, it poses a threat to human beings.”

            These dangers have made different researchers to come up with different opinions on how this issue can be tackled. One of ideas is to drain some water from the seas and oceans into places found on land, which are below sea level. For instance, the Turpan depression can be utilized for this purpose. It occupies an area of about fifty thousand square kilometers, and is one hundred and fifty four meters below sea level. However, this solution is not practical considering that the sea is about 360 million square kilometers, so it would not hold even a meter high of water. Another solution that some researchers have thought of is erection of high dams that would help in storing sea water. It would require high and extensive lands for the dams to be constructed since for one meter of water to be accommodated, it would mean building a dam the size of France, and 700 meters high. This cannot be possible as there is no such vacant land. So the most rational idea would be to build a dam around every coastline in the world that is one meter tall. Consideration can be given to coastal regions that have their cities at the verge of submergence. “The most rational action that could be taken to prevent destruction of human life in areas that are highly populated that are mostly protected from all sides by high grounds, for instance, Puget Sound and San Francisco. Dams can be built at the entrance to keep the advancement of ocean waters out. The best way to contain this problem of rising sea level and its effects on the lives of human beings is to build artificial reservoirs, which according to research results from Taiwan national central university, has reduced sea level rise by about three centimeters. But the best way of reducing this effect is by controlling climate change as this is the major cause of melting of ice sheets, which then lead to rise in sea levels.”


            “After analyzing the effects that an increase sea level, it can be clearly seen that it presents a danger to human beings. This necessitates the formulation and implementation of policies and ideas that will help reduce this rise in sea level. The best and most influential way of controlling sea level rise is by reducing climate change. Failure to control the rise in sea level may lead to disastrous effects in future.”



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