On Sept. 26, the Delta Electronics Foundation hosted the Delta Climate Salon, which focused on the Special Report of the Oceans and Cryosphere under Climate Change, released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Sept. 25. The report states that the frequency of global ocean heat waves has not only doubled, but they have also become more prolonged, stronger and extreme.
According to the report, by the end of the century, 80 percent of the world’s smaller glaciers will have melted and disappeared into the sea. Throughout the 21st century and beyond, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are expected to continue to be lost, but at an increasing rate. In the context of increased greenhouse gas emissions, the rate and magnitude of these permafrost changes are expected to increase further in the second half of the 21st century.
The report says that increased precipitation, wind and extreme sea level events due to anthropogenic climate change may result in typhoons of increased intensity. The report also says that the warming of the oceans since the 20th century has resulted in reduced catch potential. In many regions, the number of fish and shellfish has decreased due to the direct and indirect effects of global warming and biogeochemical changes.
Tung Ching-pin, a professor at the Department of Engineering for Sustainable Environment at National Taiwan University, said that in recent years, we have seen an increased number extreme weather events in Taiwan. In 2001, Typhoon Nari caused flooding in Taipei, and the following spring a drought occurred in Taipei, yet the probability of such extreme weather events from occurring is once in 10,000 years. In addition, in the spring of 2018, water levels at the Zengwen Reservoir were low, while in August of the same year, Kaohsiung experienced a flood. Taiwan encountered two extreme weather events in less than 20 years, which is quite unprecedented, said Tung.
Tung pointed out that climate change causes rising sea levels: in addition to impacting coastal fixed-net fishing, this also affects the global transportation network. In Taiwan, 98 percent of our energy and 70 percent of our grain supply are imported. In addition to affecting the ports, stronger storms and winds caused by climate change also have an impact on flights.
Chen Chao-lun, a research fellow at the Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center, said that if the temperature rises by 1.5 degrees Celsius, it may lead to 70 percent to 90 percent of the coral reefs dying. If it rises to 2 degrees, it will kill 99 percent of the reefs. According to the report, coral reef bleaching has now accelerated to every 5 to 6 years and may be shortened to 3 to 4 years in the future. Coral reefs are known to be home to 100,000 species of organisms. One billion people’s livelihoods depend on healthy coral reefs, which are worth more than US$100 billion to the tourism and fishing industries.
Chen said that if action is taken immediately, large-scale greenhouse gas emission reduction and sequestration could limit the temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees by 2030. Taiwan’s Taitan reef enables carbon sequestration and has the potential to be an important ecosystem for reducing carbon emissions in Taiwan, Chen added.
Tung says that both the government and the private sector have already done much to tackle climate change, but at present there is no standardization and a lack of integration between scientific research and government policy, while supervisory mechanisms are also lacking. If an industry wants to become a part of the international supply chain, it should be required to improve its ability to prevent disasters, such as flooding, which requires the effective implementation of government policy, Tung says.
(Translated by Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
Photo courtesy of Jialan Documentary Team
1. Melting glaciers can cause rising sea levels. In what ways could humans be affected by this phenomenon?
2. Give some examples of extreme weather events that have taken place in recent years.
3. Why is it important to protect coral reefs? Consider the impact on biodiversity and people’s livelihoods in your answer.
4. What do experts quoted in this article suggest could be done to tackle climate change?
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. heat wave phr.
2. glacier n.
3. green house gas emission phr.
(wen1 shi4 qi4 ti3 pai2 fang4)
4. precipitation n.
5. catch potential phr.
(yu2 huo4 qian2 neng2)
6. flooding n.
7. drought n.
8. coral reef bleaching phr.
(shan1 hu2 jiao1 bai2 hua4)
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