The World Meteorological Organization reported on Wednesday that the world’s oceans reached their warmest and most acidic last year—the highest record in 26,000 years.
The United Nations also expressed concern, saying that the Russia-Ukraine tension disrupted commitments by countries to environmental preservation.
The WMO report shows evidence of the ocean’s overall well-being deteriorating over the years. The recent melting of the planet’s ice sheets has caused global sea levels to rise at an alarming rate, potentially leading to a number of irreversible damages like species extinction and frequent flooding, and many more.
“Our climate is changing before our eyes. The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come,” said Petteri Taalas, the Secretary-General of WMO.
The United Nations has called on countries to take more responsibility for the environment. In their most recent climate assessment, they stressed that if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut soon, the future damage it will cause will be ‘catastrophic.’
Further, Taalas feels that the COVID-19 crisis and Ukraine’s war with Russia have overshadowed climate change talks in recent months. This is problematic because it limits discussion about how countries can work together in reducing CO2 emissions to combat global warming.
“We are … seeing many choices being made by many major economies which, quite frankly, have the potential to lock in a high-carbon, high-polluting future and will place our climate goals at risk,” Selwin Hart, special adviser for UN’s secretary-general, said. Hart was specifically disappointed with countries backing out from their climate commitments amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
The MSCI, in a note, said that the replacement of gas with coal would only have more adverse effects on the environment.
It has been reported that the levels of carbon dioxide and methane in 2021 are among some of their highest since then. With countries expressing an intention to turn back onto coal for energy production, it is anticipated these increases will reach critical points within the year. Average global temperatures were up by 1.15 last year; this year, scientists project an increase of 1.5 degrees – reaching another critical threshold.
Taalas warned nations, “It is just a matter of time before we see another warmest year on record.”
Temperature increase pose threat to world’s ocean
The oceans are a crucial part of our planet, taking up 90% percent of all accumulated heat of the globe and 23% of the emitted carbon dioxide. But with global temperatures increasing at an alarming rate as well as continued emissions, the acidity level of the world’s ocean reached its highest point in 26,000 years.
Warmer weather has led to frequent melting of ice sheets, which are chasing away polar wildlife and could ultimately threaten its population. Sea levels have also risen by about 4.5 centimeters or 1.8 inches over the last decade, and this figure is expected to continue growing exponentially.
WMO warns that if the trend goes on, life-threatening climate-related disasters are bound to happen. It could include extreme wildfires and heatwaves, which would cause devastating damage in countries all over the world, as well as increased flooding and stronger cyclones. Damage could amount to billions of dollars, the WMO estimates.