Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Storm Warning

Sailing must be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to go from A to B. Not just low emission but zero emission, using the power of the winds and tides alone.

Its also connects you with nature, with the call of the sea gulls, the smell of the brine, with moments of magic with dolphins, whales, and even turtles.

But even sailing is not going to be exempt from the effects of global warming. All that CO2 being produced by industry, for power and heating, and for transport is changing our planet and the oceans we sail on.

And what changes can we expect? Typically - but not always - warmer weather, which in the doldrums that could make the unpleasant unbearable.

Then there's the sea level rise. From a few centimeters to maybe as much as 10m. Think of that next time you're in the marina and work out what would be left when your head is convered by Greenland's melted ice. A whole new coastline, maybe miles back from the current one.

And new currents. There is a real possibility of the end of the Gulf stream that warms the UK and speeds boats towards world speed records on the transat. That could lead to Britain becoming as cold as Canada in winter while still warmer in summer.

Then there's the effect on wild-life. Most of the coral reefs we love will die - killed by rise in water temperature, a rise too quick to allow the reef to be re-established in cooler waters.

Plus storms, more storms, stronger storms, as the energy pumped into the system is released.

Its time to get real. Business as usual isn't going to happen. Either we must change how we use energy or we can expect the world - and the seas we sail - to change on us.

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