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Day 55 – Q 3. Examine the impacts of global sea level rise on the costal flora and fauna. 

  • IASbaba
  • August 12, 2020
  • 0
GS 1, Indian Geography, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. Examine the impacts of global sea level rise on the costal flora and fauna. 

तटीय वनस्पतियों और जीवों पर वैश्विक समुद्री स्तर के प्रभाव का परीक्षण करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects candidates to  probe deeper into the impacts of global sea level rise on the coastal flora and fauna.

Introduction:

As per the fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC), the global sea level is rising at an average rate of 8 mm per year over the last century. 

Body: 

The  impacts of sea level rise are numerous. The most worrying aspect of the report, however, is not this increasing figure, but its foresight: “Sea level is rising faster than 50 years ago and is likely to worsen in the future.” Hence, it becomes imperative to understand its impact on the coastal flora and fauna to tackle it. 

Impacts of global sea level rise on the costal flora and fauna:

  • Water is increasingly invading coastal areas, causing soil erosion and threatening farmland, housing or recreation areas.
  • The flooding of wetlands and pollution of aquifers also occur, affecting the flora and fauna of each place, causing the loss of habitat for fish, birds, plants and many other species.
  • Low-lying islands would be swallowed by the oceans, leading to the disappearance of large land areas and even some countries.
  • As a consequence of loss of habitat, the Earth could witness a dramatic decline in fish stocks.
  • It is also going to impact the breeding season and pattern of the coastal flora and fauna.
  • Most of the oceanic creatures travel long distances to reach for a suitable breeding ground. Due to sea level rise these breeding grounds may start to disappear and submerged under the ocean. e.g. Ollive ridley turtles breeding ground off the coast of Odisha and west Bengal.
  • Plantation agriculture across the oceans are going to be hampered. e.g. Coconut plantation, palm plantation across the oceans.
  • Animals are facing the threat of extinction due to melting of ice over the glacial regions. e.g. Polar bears home in Arctic regions may disappear as a result it might face extinction due to loss of habitat and no adaptability of body type in melted glacier region.
  • Due to constant rising sea level, many small atolls (circular coral colonies) of Indian archipelago are sinking. Parali I Island of Lakshadweep has already sunk and Parali II has sunk almost 80% of its total area.
  • Rising sea levels can exacerbate the impacts of coastal hazards such as storm surge, tsunami, coastal floods, high waves and coastal erosion in the low lying coastal areas in addition to causing gradual loss of coastal land to sea.
  • UNIPCC in its fifth report has stated that sea level in Lakshadweep has risen up to 0.6 m in last 20 years. This will not only cause loss in livelihood to the native people but also loss of biodiversity as large number of flora and fauna inhibit these Islands along with Particularly Vulnerable Tribal groups (PVTGs).
  • Mangrove forests across the shore which acts a barrier against devastating high levels of tides also face threat of submergence under coastal water rise. It might aggravate the tsunami like disasters impact on the coastal population.
  • It’s not just about the sea level rise affecting coastal areas flora and fauna, the rising sea level is going to increase the amount of rainfall over the earth, due to which the flora and fauna in the forested regions also face threat of extinction due to tremendous amount of rainfall over the region making plants and animals hard to survive.
  • Rising sea level in coastal regions is also going to hamper the food availability for the fauna in the nearby areas.
  • Also due to impact on the fauna, insects which are necessary for  the pollination might get extinct. It will in turn affect the life cycle of flora too. 

Ways to tackle impact of sea level rise on the coastal flora and fauna:

  • Greenhouse gasses are a major contributor to sea level rise. By reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced every year and formulating measures to contain it will be useful to minimize the sea level rise.
  • Protect wetlands: Wetlands act as natural buffers for coastal areas during rainstorms and hurricanes. They absorb precipitation and storm surge waters. 
  • Plant more plants and save trees. Plants clean the air and soak up rain. Reduce paper use to prevent trees from being cut down.
  • Reduce energy use. Reducing  energy usage is good for the environment. 
  • Push for a Climate Action Plan. Many cities and states do not have plans to address climate change, which is the primary cause of current sea level rise. Hence, preparing a climate action plan for the city to international level will synchronize the efforts to tackle the sea level rise.
  • The Sunrise Movement in USA is pressuring candidates to adopt a Green New Deal. There are 500 candidates who have vowed not to accept campaign contributions from the oil industry.
  • Also there is need for an international level alliance and agreement like Paris climate deal that specifically dedicated to look in to matter of sea level rise.

Conclusion:

The threat of sea level rise is near and real. If necessary steps are not taken at this moment then it might result in the destruction of the not only the coastal environment and surrounding but the domino like effect will follow which will affect whole the planet earth. Hence, it become our responsibility to take a step forward to save our mother earth.

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