Monday, 12 November 2012

A Nightmare From Which We Will Be Unable to Awake

by Isabel Stark

New York underwater, after Hurrican Sandy
There is a map opposite my bed. It is of a standard calibre and large-ish size. It has acted, over the years it has come to be in my possession, as sanctuary- a sort of refuge from my deep-seated, troubling concerns and worries. Staring at the small randomly coloured countries always helps me realise just how insignificant everything is and how it would not resonate all the way to Bangladesh (coloured in yellow). However one worry was persistently eating away at my sanity, so I gazed at my map scanning across the bright countries and the vast expanse of blue ocean. This worry was real and would affect every inch of this map and change the delicate balance of our lives as we know it permanently and irreversibly. It was climate change.

(source: envis.tropmet.res)
The facts and figures are horrific; the proof will be in 50 years time when we will be living in a nightmare from which we will be unable to wake up. By 2050, 1 billion people will be displaced, forced to move homes due to the devastating effects climate change will cause. That’s the whole of Africa forced to move. That’s 1 in 7 of us. And with an expected 10.5 billion people living on the planet in 40 years we will just not have the land or economies to sustain such large populations.  Not only will our economies struggle but also food and water will be in greater demand and prices inflating due to pure lack of fertile land and lack of it in quantity, water will also be scarce. You can go a month without food but only a week without water; in 2080 up to 3.2 billion of us will be having our lives hanging by a thread due to water scarcity. Unless we change our ways drastically life as we know it will be very difficult in less than a generation’s time.

Flooding, heat waves, droughts, tornadoes are just some of the uncontrollable meteorological issues we will face in the future. Wild weather is increasing, cold summers, warm winters, record amounts of floods, intense hurricanes. All the extreme weather and bizarre weather patterns are down to our climate changing. The USA was hit by 14 extreme weather events in 2011 causing a vast amount of damage and destruction, which cost a lot repair. These will continue to get worse; by 2050 Bangladesh will go under water and 80-100 million people will become climate refugees. We will also face losing many species of animals. With the atmosphere heating and the Arctic melting soon we will not be able to see a polar bear in the wild, this is heartbreaking.

We need to tackle the problem of climate change; finding alternatives to fossil fuels is key. Fossil fuels and forms of energy we use are the key to helping preserve our planet for future generations.  Fossil fuels are to blame for the majority of greenhouse gases. These greenhouses gases released are warming our planet, over the last century alone the earth has warmed by 1.4°F and could potentially rise from anywhere between 2-11 .5°F in the next 100 years. Even the smallest rise in temperature could have unforgivable effects on the delicate ecosystem that surrounds us.
Coral reefs have a vital, irreplaceable part to play in our ecosystem; they are the forests to the oceans. They are the habitat to thousands of marine organisms. Coral reefs are in decline, the main threat to them is human induced climate change. Coral is now at risk, due to climate change, from coral bleaching, disease and ocean acidification. The main concern is the oceans becoming more acidic, corals could potentially slowly recover from bleaching and disease over a matter of time if we change our destructive ways but acidic oceans are a real worry. This is because over the next decades if the oceans become anymore acidic the coral will literally dissolve into nothing and what will be created is an uninhabitable environment for them. We must put into practice alternative fuels before we completely run out of natural gases and fossil fuels as well as causing irreversible damage.

Victim of Deepwater Horizon spill
We also have a lack of care towards our environment and a destructive, greedy attitude. In 2010 the U.S had the biggest environmental disaster in their history; Fifty miles off the shore of Louisiana the BP ‘Deepwater Horizon’ oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. This incident killed 11 workers and has caused endless economic and environmental impacts which, two years on, BP is still trying to tackle. After hundreds of ditch attempts to cap the oil spill, 5 months on after leaking, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil in total (62,000 barrels per day -2,604,000 gallons per day) had escaped into the Gulf of Mexico covering hundreds of miles of endangered coast line and ocean. All of this has amounted to a mammoth cost of over $48 billion dollars excluding the legal fines which will charge between $1110-4300 for each barrel of oil which spouted out of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil rig. This all led to the closure of all oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP could then concentrate on repairing the damaged environment. The clean up efforts on the surface looked positive, nearly most of all the oil slick had gone. But underneath the surface of the sea the clean up was far from over; 10cm of oil had been found on the seabed containing dead sealife and plants, if this is not fixed over the course of time these organisms, which are vital in the food chain will be no longer available, this could drastically alter the marine life and local industries like fishing. After such a titanic disaster the ban has now been lifted. 44 drilling permits have now been given for that area and by 2022 the expected output of oil will increase by 28%. We are exploiting our earth for our own personal gain with no regard to the future generations.

The facts are clear, we need to stop our self destructive ways. This involves everyone, we are all connected and will all face the consequences in the near future if we do not change our ways; we can be certain of facing an impossible way of life. The Arctic gone, coral reefs in decline, overcrowding, food and water shortages, power shortages some of the joys we face. If we do not change, the impacts will come back to haunt us with devastating repercussions. This worry concerns not just me but everyone (including little yellow Bangladesh on my map).


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. thats so scary

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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