Two chilling articles from last week’s Guardian Weekly just finished, both about the consequences of the world’s water getting warmer faster than expected.
The Greenland ice sheet is melting, “far faster than the climate models predicted and far more decisively than any political actions to combat our changing climate.” It’s worth a read – we could be looking at “a sea level rise of catastrophic proportions”. Scientists working at the poles are predicting a one-metre rise by 2100 – this “would require new defences for New York, London, Mumbai and Shanghai, and imperil swathes of low-lying land from Bangladesh to Florida. Vulnerable areas accommodate 10% of the world’s population – 600 million people.”
And the sockeye salmon are not spawning. According to an article in the same publication but not on-line, only 1.7 million salmon have returned to spawn in the Fraser River in British Columbia instead of the expected 10.6 million. “Salmon swim more slowly when water temperature is above 18C, with the first signs of sickness and death setting in at 20c”, and the river was recording 21C, 2.5C above normal. Fraser river salmon are restricted to First Nation fishers, and were expected to enter a “large abundance cycle”. Not any more.
While the temperature is also rising in the debate over the environment in New Zealand, these events give kaitiakitanga and the foreshore debate a whole new dimension. It’s time for urgency and long-term thinking.