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Climate Chaos is the topic of the Weekly Chat for Module 04 during the weeks 10, 11 and 12.
Background: Oceans warm. Coral reefs die. Glaciers melt. Sea levels rise. Sea ice thins. Permafrost thaws. Ocean acidifies. Migration times vary. Species die out. Lakes shrink. Snowpack declines. Ice shelves collapse. Wildfires increase. Droughts linger. Storms are more extreme. Mountain streams run dry. Flowers get bigger. Trees turn green sooner. Exotic species invade. Cloud forests dry. Spring comes earlier. Fall leaves later.
Global warming or climate change? Increasingly, scientists and policy makers are coming to call it for what it truly is: “climate chaos.” This term acknowledges that we indeed know the continued increase in carbon dioxide levels at current rates will lead to environmental and climatic change on a global scale—and recognizes that we do not know exactly what this will mean, beyond that it will leave the global environmental balance in a state of chaos.
Throughout its history, Earth’s climate has varied. For at least the last million years, our world has experienced cycles of warming and cooling that takes approximately 100,000 years to complete. Over the course of each cycle, global average temperatures have fallen and then risen again by about 9˚F (5˚C), each time taking earth into an ice age and then warming it again. This cycle is believed to result from regular changes to Earth’s orbit that alter the intensity of solar energy that the planet receives. Earth’s climate has also been influenced on a very long time scale by changes in ocean circulation as a result of plate tectonic movements. Species and ecosystems have either adopted to these past changes or become extinct.
In the past 10,000 years, while human civilization has existed, regional changes in climate have had a profound impact on human history—playing a deciding factor in whether civilization failed or thrived. We now know that human activities in turn have also had profound influence on earth’s climate, as our activities have lead to a rapid increase in the three heat-trapping gases: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
We are only just beginning to comprehend how the world ocean is being affect by this and how it in turn affects the climate; but as we are facing the realities of the world ocean no longer being able to uptake carbon dioxide at the rate it increases in the atmosphere, resulting ocean acidification, a threatened marine food web and rising sea levels—what we’re finding out only increases the urgency for solutions that reverse climate change.
Some questions to possibly open the chat with or discuss prior to the LIVE chat!
How is climate change a serious problem for the oceans? How might life on land be impacted by the changes happening in the world ocean?
What are the world’s nations doing to prevent or reduce climate change? Is enough being done?
Is climate change something that you think about in your daily life?