Global polluters are causing a historic increase in sea levels

From ToxicLeaks

We all knew that global polluters like fossil fuel or mining companies were guilty of causing global warming, which was in turn making the sea levels increase. What we didn't know was how fast these levels are increasing. A February 22nd study by Robert Kopp,climate scientist at Rutgers University, gives some chilling insight, claiming that the increase has never been so fast in the last 3000 years. This confirms the threat caused by corporate greed and why it must be stopped before it's too late.

20th century global pollution has accelerated the rise of sea levels[edit | edit source]

Robert Kopp used a new approach that is illuminating and highlights the carelessness of global polluters. His team has compared the data of the last century to data from the past millennia, reaching back to the Bronze Age. They gathered all the clues they could get to know how the sea levels shifted during all those years. Kopp's conclusion is crystal clear : “The 20th century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia—and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster”. In other words, the rise is dramatic and it is definitely linked to human activity. The report points out that the increase would probably have happened anyway, but would not have been as colossal without anthropogenic emissions. On average, sea levels were 14 cms higher in 2000 than in 1900, and the researchers are positive that had big corporations not treated the atmosphere like their garbage can, the increase would only have been half as big. Additionally, a large part of the 8,000 floods that hit the American coasts could have been averted. This already is a striking confirmation of the climate disruption that greenhouse gases have set off. And the worse thing is that the discovery of the greenhouse effect and the dangers of this trend have done nothing to change the levels of emissions. On the contrary, the rise of sea levels has only gotten faster in the last decades. This reflects the downright irresponsible corporate strategies that are sawing the branch we are all sitting on.

21st century projections are appalling[edit | edit source]

If you thought the figures of the rise of sea levels in the 20th century were a cause to be concerned, wait until you read about the projected figures for the 21st century ! In the same issue as Kopp's study was a report by a German team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This team has attempted to project the evolution of sea levels up to 2100 by extrapolating the effects of melting glaciers and warming oceans. They have made three projections. The first one is the most optimistic one, its basis is that the world follows the agreement struck at the Paris conference of December 2015. However, even in this case, the increase of sea levels would continue and reach 28 to 56 cms. Co-Author Anders Levermann explains that “with all the greenhouse gases we have already emitted, we cannot stop the seas from rising altogether, but we can substantially limit the rate of the rise by ending the use of fossil fuels”. This would already mean a substantial rise in sea levels and the endangerment of the lives and homes of millions of people. But the other scenarios are even worse. The pessimistic one assumes that the Paris Conference commitments won't be followed and that the sea levels increase might reach 131 cms.

The researchers call for quick action to mitigate global warming and limit the sea levels increase to under 60 cms. “This is quite a challenge, but less expensive than adaptation to unabated sea level rise, which in some regions is impossible,” according to Professor Levermann. “If the world wants to avoid the greatest losses and damage, it now has to rapidly follow the path laid out by the UN climate summit in Paris a few weeks ago.” The only thing is that fossil fuel companies have already started neutralizing the Paris deal and making sure it's “business as usual” for them. During the conference, the corporations lobbied decision makers to make sure the decisions didn't impede their interests. For instance, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development represented major fossil fuel emitters like General Motors, BP, Shell, and insisted that action to mitigate climate change should not endanger economic growth. And since, fossil fuel lobbies have continued their influence to make sure the Paris deal is never implemented. A case in point is the drive of Canadian oil lobbies to lower regulations on oil drilling. Barely two months after the agreement was signed...

Greenhouse gas champions are to blame[edit | edit source]

Fossil fuel companies are to blame for this fearful and increasingly fast rise of sea levels. In 2013, a study measured that almost two thirds of the total greenhouse gas emissions generated between 1751 and 2011 have been released by a very small number of companies. This report was conducted by the Climate Accountability Institute and estimated that 90 companies were responsible for 63 % of the emissions of the last two and a half centuries. That's about 914 gigatonnes of CO², which is about 90 times what China emits every year ! And here again, half of this total was released in the last 25 years, at a time when the dangers of global warming were known ! In this list, we find the regular suspects : Chevron is top of this terrible list, being responsible for 3.5 % of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1751 ! ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco are 2nd and 3rd, they both generated more than 3% of emissions. Other major greenhouse gas offenders are BP, Gazprom, Shell, National Iranian Oil Company, Pernex, ConocePhilips, Petroleos de Venezuela. In other words, these are the companies that have created this mess, that have caused global warming and the rise of sea levels. As former vice-president Al Gore said when he saw the study. "Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution."

The rising sea levels are a cause for concern that should matter to everybody. But as always, big corporations refuse to take responsibility and contribute to the necessary economic transition even though they have caused the environmental damage that is threatening us all. Which is why it's high time that governments made corporations pay for their misconduct and each and every citizen must be a part of the democratic drive that will achieve that goal.