Author: William Tsay
Editor: Vincent Chang
Artist: Daelah Nicholas
We have all heard the phrase: “the ice caps are melting”, but to the average person it doesn’t mean much. Truthfully, we are in a dangerous situation that continues to worsen. With no real solution, the effects of global warming will soon be felt by the average civilian.
Oceans are a crucial part of our survival; not only do oceans provide us with recreation and economic benefit, but they also provide us with food, medicine, air purification, and transportation. Oceans are the largest carbon sinks, absorbing 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere and producing over half of the world's oxygen supply (US Department of Commerce). From fishing and boating to whale watching, our oceans give us a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature. In addition, the abundance of species (around 1 million) creates an environment rich in biodiversity.
Nature is a delicate force that creates balance between input and output, but ever since the Industrial Revolution, humans have tipped this balance, leading to an immense change in the climate of Earth. The 18th century saw the beginning of the age of technology. Production became more mechanized as large and efficient machinery replaced manual labor. Invented in 1850, the steam engine maximized the yield from renewable energy sources like coal. These technological developments drastically changed the way humans lived and worked.
With new technology, the human population increased exponentially. According to a chart published by Our World In Data, the world population was around 1 billion in 1800 and has increased 7-fold since then (Roser).
One effect of climate change is thermal expansion of the oceans- when water levels rise when atmospheric temperatures increase- since water expands as it warms. Global sea levels have also risen due to the increased melting of glaciers and ice sheets. According to climate.gov, sea levels have risen about 8–9 inches since the 19th century, about ⅓ of that amount being from the last two decades. The U.N. Atlas of the Oceans claimed that eight of the world’s ten largest cities are near a coast. Sea level rising threatens infrastructure necessary for jobs and regional industries while roads, bridges, and power plants are all susceptible to damage. Hurricanes and storm surges are much more frequent and destructive than before as hurricanes are fueled by warm water. They claim many lives and have a disastrous effect on the economy by wiping outbuildings and creating a water-flooded environment.
While there are many ways to deal with the effects of climate change and ocean thermal expansion, the most important solution is to reduce the number of pollutants released into the atmosphere. This includes switching to more renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, water, geothermal, and tidal. The path which we take in the future is unknown, but with the right amount of public awareness and a little bit of hope, we can fix global warming and bring balance back to nature.
US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Why Should We
Care about the Ocean?” NOAA's National Ocean Service, 24 May 2017,
Roser, Max, et al. “World Population Growth.” Our World in Data, 9 May 2013,
“Causes of Climate Change.” Climate Action - European Commission, 28 June 2017,
“Climate Change: Global Sea Level: NOAA Climate.gov.” Climate Change: Global Sea Level | NOAA Climate.gov, 25 Jan. 2021,