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Many people are threatened by the continuously rising sea level

Though the rising sea level seems to be a distant, abstract problem from the Carpathian Basin that does not really affect us, we should also pay attention to it. It threatens the homes and lives of millions and it affects the way of life of mankind. Therefore, we need to know its causes, threats and the possible solutions as well as how to mitigate its adverse effects.

We read more and more often about rising sea levels, a process mostly driven by the melting of land ice areas and glaciers. We are also aware that the process is speeding up and is gradually becoming irreversible. Accordingly, the only thing we can do is be prepared and live with it.

What is the rise in sea level and what causes it?

Researchers have long been monitoring the global mean sea level (GMSL), thus they have an accurate picture of the degree of rise, and can make predictions for the future based on this data. Unfortunately, the outlook is not too good.

The phenomenon is mainly caused by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice due to global warming. This process was already speeding up in the mid-19th century, but it has gained true momentum over the past 20 years. The speed it is melting is shocking as its current pace is six times higher compared to the period preceding the industrial revolution, and it keeps speeding up.

In addition to the melting of ice, that is, additional water, some other phenomena are also at play. Amongst other factors, the thermal expansion of oceans and the change of streams contribute the most to rising sea levels.

Tragedies closer and closer on the horizon

The melting is continuous and irreversible. The ice sheet is receding and the amount of melt water is increasing. According to researcher forecast, the rise in sea level could reach up to 25 cm by the end of the century.

But the problems caused by the phenomenon are already present in our lives today. The forecasts suggest that floods can already be expected in the near future and thus the evacuation of local lowlands. Scholars foresee the further melting of glaciers, the disappearance of ice sheets and the further decrease of the Arctic sea ice, with all these inevitably leading to the continuing rise in sea level.

Whom and how will this affect? And more importantly, when?

According to forecasts, the rising sea level will affect more than 1.4 billion people directly. Of this population, roughly 680 million people live in lowlands, and their home regions will soon be flooded by the water. Small island developing states are also destined for this, with a total population of 65 million, just as another roughly 4 million people who are permanent residents in the Arctic.

But no one should think the problem only belongs to those who live far away. Entire countries, cultures may be destroyed, and the consequences will also reach us. People who lose their homes will seek shelter and jobs elsewhere. Billions of people could start to move and settle in safer regions. Access to clean drinking water will be an ever-growing problem, while the changing sea streams will affect the weather drastically. Entire species will be threatened by extinction due to the loss of habitats and the changes in waters. As the ecosystem changes, natural disasters will become more frequent, such as forest fires, floods or landslides. We can see the horrific consequences of the slow but steady rise in the sea level, which affects the life of the entire planet. But is there anything left to do?

The solution is in our hands

Threatened countries, such as the Netherlands, defend by building dunes to slow down the expansion of the sea. They plan to build further sea dams, but this means a severe interference with the laws of nature (making the low tides and high tides disappear) and no one can predict the consequences.

Although the rise in the sea level is a rapid and irreversible process, calculations show it can be slowed down significantly. A recent study found that if we were able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the average rise in the sea level resulting from the melting of the ice would be 13 centimetres by the end of the century, compared to the forecasted 25 centimetres.

We can also play our part in moderating the process of global warming because climate change is everyone’s responsibility. Living an environmentally conscious life means a smaller ecological footprint, which requires us to change our way of life: we need to use less energy and water, travel smartly and economically, and we should not buy unnecessary things, and more importantly, any disposable plastic items. We should seek packaging-free products and drink tap water instead of PET bottled soft drinks, thus contributing to keeping the balance of nature. We should forget about mineral waters for good; instead, we should use non-disposable bottles and flasks which we fill with purified tap water. The Floewater system helps with this: it provides filtered, clean drinking water without disposable plastic waste, so you not only consume clean drinking water instead of bottled water but also protect the environment.


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