Earth's Oceans Are the Hottest They've Ever Been Thanks to Global Warming
Congratulations, humanity: We're all doing a great job of making the planet unlivable.
2017 was a big year for bizarre weather patterns and a chilling reminder of just how deadly climate change can be, as enormous storms raged for months, destroying homes, flooding towns, and leaving millions without basic necessities.
It's likely that 2018 won't be much better, especially considering a new report that shows that the planet's ocean water is hotter than any other time on record.
According to the study from Institute of Atmospheric Physics/Chinese Academy of Science, 2017 saw global sea temperatures rising in line with earlier predictions, which suggest that some cataclysmic events are on the horizon if we don't shape up soon and stop releasing so many pollutants into the atmosphere.
According to Dr Dann Mitchell of the University of Bristol:
If temperatures continue to rise, we're going to see a lot more natural disasters as a result. The oceanic system of underground currents is a complex entity, and something as small as a single degree of extra warmth can throw the planet's delicate ecosystem into disarray.
Every year in this century has been hotter than the average from the 1900s, with a general rising trend over time. While 2017 wasn't the hottest year on record (it currently ranks third, for what it's worth), scientists believe that the cumulative effect on the oceans, and in particular, the polar ice caps, will mean dramatic changes in water temperatures going forward.
In the words of World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas:
Even dropping a giant ice cube into the ocean Futurama style isn't going to be enough to fix this mess!
The good news is that we do at least have some momentary reprieve on the horizon. Scientists predict that the sun is about to enter a cool dormant period, where less heat will reach our planet - this should, if we're very lucky, give us just long enough to sort out our dependencies on harmful fuel sources, so that we have time to correct the damage that we've already done to the polar ice caps and the planet's environment as a whole.
We can take courage from the fact that the planet's ozone layer is slowly healing from previous damage, which shows that it is possible for the global community to work together to change bad practices and save ourselves from self-inflicted destruction.
The danger with the oncoming mini ice age is that humanity may get complacent, treating this respite period as a new norm, and an indication that global warming wasn't as big of a deal as scientists had claimed. If that's the case, then when the sun does light back up again in full force, we're all going to melt.