By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola
Our planet with its atmosphere is an exquisitely interconnected system of ocean, air, and land. Water flows through all of it and keeps it—and us—alive.
Water continually cycles above, on, and below the Earth’s surface, driven by the sun’s energy. It evaporates from the seas, transpires from plants and soil, flows from glaciers and aquifers, and falls as rain or snow.
It covers 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface. It can be liquid, gas, or solid. And it regulates the planet’s temperature.
Part of the way water maintains a fairly steady surface temperature on Earth is by mixing with carbon dioxide to create a heat-trapping blanket in the atmosphere. But when we pump too much carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air and water, it upsets the balance.
Even though our oceans and atmosphere are vital to all life, we often treat them as waste-disposal sites. We are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the plants on land and in the oceans can reabsorb and process, and so it builds up, trapping more heat and causing the planet’s long-term temperature to rise.
Many of consequences have been widely reported, but global warming’s effect on the oceans hasn’t garnered the attention it deserves.
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