The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century has brought a lot of comfort in people’s life. The development of science has become evidence that it is necessary to pay for everything, and the price for comfort and technological development is far too high. Scientists are raising numerous questions concerning environmental problems. One of the most topical issues is the rise of sea-level. Reputedly, the sea-level was rising steadily throughout centuries. However, this rising has increased during the past century.
Some people argue that human activity has nothing to do with global climate changes, but others claim that these are people who are responsible for the rapid changes in the sea-level. It is also necessary to point out that many scientists try to work out strategies to diminish the negative influence of people, whereas some say that there remains nothing to be done. Nevertheless, it is clear that the problem does exist and the change of climate and the sea-level will affect people’s lives greatly.
In the first place, it is important to define what sea-level rise is. Thus, see level change “is a measure of the relative movement between land and sea surfaces” (Hecht). Numerous researches were conducted to estimate this measure. For instance, Kurt Lambeck, scientist from Australian National University, used Ancient Romans’ fish pens to calculate the precise sea-level rise (Hecht).
However, one of the most profound researches was implemented by scientists from Southampton who analyzed data from 400 “high-quality sea-level markers from study sites around the globe” (Rohling). Reportedly, the sea-level rise rate is one meter per a century (1cm per year). Additionally, the scientists found that this gradual rise was “interrupted by two periods with rates of rise up to 2.5 meters per century” (Rohling).
The first period took place about 15-13 thousand years ago in the times “of global warming called the Bolling-Allerod period” and the second period took place about 11-9 thousand years ago in the times of the so-called “big freeze” or “the Younger Dryas” (Rohling). These findings suggest that sea-level change was not always gradual.
There were at least two significant changes in the process. These changes took place before the start of any significant human activity. These data can become a good argument for those who claim that humans are responsible for rapid change in sea-level rise.
However, it is impossible to underestimate the impact of people on the processes related to climate change and, therefore, sea-level rise. The nineteenth century was the beginning of the industrial revolution which has resulted in huge amounts of emissions of greenhouse gases and extensive use of fossil fuel. Reportedly, within “the past 150 years” sea-level is rising “at 2mm a year” (Sample). It is expected that this tendency will “make oceans 40cm higher by 2010” (Sample).
Many researchers try to estimate whether the Earth has ever witnessed the same processes. According to German researchers “levels of the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, are rising 200 times faster than could be caused by any natural process” (Sample). Such findings suggest that people intervene in the natural processes which take place, and this interruption can cause various effects which are difficult to cope with since there hardly were precedents.
Admittedly, the major factor which influences sea-level rise is climate change. For instance, German scientists report that the climate is “warming compared with any time during the past 650,000 years” (Sample). The majority of researchers point out that climate change is caused by gas emissions which increased dramatically during the past two centuries.
Scientists claim that the levels of carbon dioxide are 27% higher and methane levels are 130% higher “than at any time over the period they analyzed” (Sample). These findings suggest that human activity has played an important role in climate change. A climate scientist, Ed Brook, draws the following conclusion
The levels of primary greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are up dramatically since the industrial revolution, at a speed and magnitude that the earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. There is now no question this is due to human influence. (Sample)
However, it is necessary to point out that the role of people in the process of climate change is not the primary concern of researchers since climate change raises more topical questions.
These questions concern Arctic ice melting caused by global warming. In fact, sea-level rise is one of the most dangerous processes (for people) since it may result in destruction and numerous deaths.
Thus, Robin Bell, marine geophysicist, reports that gradual melting of ice can result in complete submergence of the Statue of Liberty (which is 150-feet tall) within several decades (Robinson). Researchers still did not come to definite conclusions as for the role of people in the process of climate change and sea-level rise. There is only one opinion which spreads among scientists.
Thus, Bell and many other researchers do not believe that the process can be reversible. Prof Miller claimed that it is impossible to “do anything about this on any kind of cost basis at all” (Sample). Many scientists second this opinion and do not see the way to influence climate change and sea-level. At present many scientists are more concerned with identifying possible outcomes of these processes. They try to calculate what can happen to people.
Admittedly, constant climate changes always influenced people’s lives. In ancient times unfavorable climate changes caused “climate-forced” migrations (Sherbinin et al.). For instance, 4,000 years ago long-lasting drought in Canaan resulted in famine and forced people to move to the lands of Egypt (Sherbinin et al.). Nevertheless, not only ancient people had to move because of climate changes.
Nowadays global climate change can also make millions of people search for land. In fact, this is already happening. American Dust Bowl which took place in 1930s forced 3.5 million people to move from the territories of Midwest (Sherbinin et al.). According to the World Wildlife Fund some nations living in equatorial regions are “threatened with total disappearance” (Robinson).
Apart from the fact that rising sea-levels have “swallowed” two uninhabited islands, the process causes many unfavorable effects on the territories of many islands. For instance on Samoa the sea has swallowed 160 feet of the shore, whereas on Tuvalu “salt water intrusion” turned their drinking water into undrinkable. It goes without saying that those changes have made several thousand people seek for new homes. Such information is regarded as the first sign of larger problems which will appear on the global scale.
In conclusion, it is possible to point out that sea-level rise is one of those planetary phenomena which took place throughout millennia. Though, it was accepted that the sea-level was rising gradually (1m per century), scientists proved that there were two periods when the sea-level was rising faster (more than 2m per century).
At present the sea levels rise almost as fast. It is possible to regard this process as the third jump of the planetary change, but the majority of people tend to tie this change with human activity. Thus, many scientists claim that the nineteenth century was the beginning of the industrial revolution which resulted in huge emissions of greenhouse gases which caused climate change.
However, whereas these debates continue, many people suffer from climate change, and sea-level rise. Thousands of people have to leave their territories to find new safe homes where the sea will not swallow them. Thus, it is possible to assume that it is not that important to prove whether people are responsible for sea-level rise, it is much more important to understand what can and should be done to prevent millions of victims. Sea-level rise is the phenomenon which can be predicted and, therefore, people can be ready to react to some changes.
Hecht, Jeff. “Rome’s Ancient Fisheries Confirm Sea-Level Fears.”Gale Science in Context, New Scientist, 14 Aug. 2004. Web. 30 Mar 2011.
Robinson, Dudley. “Are Arctic Sea Ice Melts Causing Sea Levels to Rise?” Scientific American. Scientific American, 13 June. 2008. Web. 30 Mar 2011.
Rohling, Eelco. “Global Sea-Level Rise at the End of the Last Ice Age.” National Oceanography Centre. National Oceanography Centre, 01 Dec. 2010. Web, 30 Mar 2011.
Sample, Ian. “Sea Level Rise Doubles in 150 Years.” Guardian.co.uk. Guardian.co.uk, 25 Nov. 2005. Web. 30 Mar 2011.
Sherbinin, Alex., Warner, Koko, and Ehrhan Charles. “Casualties of Climate Change: Sea-level Rises Could Displace Tens of Millions.” Scientific American. Scientific American, 10 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Mar 2011.