To The Daily Sun,

Aside from the recent spate of shark and human interaction, what is the sea delivering to our coastline? Quite a bit, actually. I am slogging my way through a book titled “Changing Planet, Changing Health.” It’s all about how climate changes are threatening our health. The “greenhouse effect” has been an overworked term in the past few years, but it remains the driver of global warming and the threats that it poses.

To understand what is going on, an analogy is necessary. Think of the globe as a giant pressure cooker. It exerts pressure on the surfaces of the land and the sea with air being the medium. The sun keeps everything cooking. The problem is an excess of CO2 in the pot. As it is produced, it rises and acts as a blocking factor to the heat radiating back into space. The pot continues to get hotter because of the fuels we burn.

There is plenty of water in the oceans, but that water is changing due to the carbon load that it is absorbing. Another analogy is required here. Think of the oceans as a giant kitchen sink. For a couple of centuries now, we have been pouring CO2 down the kitchen/ocean sink. And so, down in the sea, changes are taking place. Acidification is continuing at an alarming rate. An imbalance between oxygen and carbon is affecting the food chain down there where the fish find their dinner and the coral reefs grow.

So, why, you say, should I care? Well, what you don’t know or care about can kill you. In the tropical regions, cholera, malaria and asthma outbreaks are beginning to occur with frightening regularity. Red and brown tides and out-of-control algae blooms plague our southern coastlines.

The health implications of these conditions already nears a crisis level in the tropics. This malady will spread northward as global warming accelerates. That should be motivation enough to get serious about reducing carbon emissions.

Another symptom of the aberrant weather conditions brought on by climate changes in the temperate zones is an increase in forest fires and floods. These conditions load the atmosphere with more carbon and seas with more nutrient-rich water for the already-mentioned algae problems along our coasts.

Therefore, it is not just what the tide brought in, it’s what we humans have brought to the air and water through the careless uses of carbon. Yes, it keeps us warm and able to go about in our cars, but somewhere in a future near you, it is going to make you sick, hot and possibly flood you out of your home.

Bill Dawson

Northfield

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