I was born in a village named “Chavara Thekkumbhagom” in the Kollam district of Kerala, India. It is an island, and my home is on the bank of a brackish water body called “Chavara Kayal,” which is an offshoot of a bigger “Ashttamudi Kayal” that estuaries with the Arabian Sea. The Arabian Sea connects to the Indian Ocean that extends to Antarctica. The Indian Ocean touches the Atlantic Ocean, which reaches up to the Arctic. You may be wondering why I am talking about all the oceans and waters.
I met my childhood friend, Santhosh, when I visited my village last time, and he told me that nowadays the water levels were going up and encroaching onto our village land. I told him it was because of the melting of ice in the Antarctica and the Arctic due to global warming. He was perplexed and asked how ice-melting at thousands of miles away could inundate our village. I paused for a while and told him that almost all the oceans and seas were interconnected and that nature of the topographies of the oceans and seas was same.
He was not answered, so I explained: Imagine that you are walking down from a beach to sea. As you walk down and further down, water level rises as depth increases, and this gradual increase of depth from beach to sea or ocean happens up to 200 nautical miles off shore. This 200-nautical mile area is called continental shelf. From the end of continental shelf, the depth-sloping becomes steeper and this area is called continental slope, which is located between 3000 – 4000 meter water depths. After the continental slope, there is continental rise, which is formed by the cascading sediments form continental shelf and slope. The continental slope and the continental rise together are called the continental margin. The end of continental margin touches the floor of ocean/sea called Abyssal Plain. And this is the general topography of all the oceans and seas on earth.
Abyssal plain have trenches — deeper pockets. The Marina trench in the Pacific Ocean is the known deepest point on this earth with a depth of 10,994 meters from the Abyssal plain. Though the volume of water that an ocean holds varies among oceans, the surface levels of the oceans and seas are almost at the same level as they are all interconnected and that they have the same topographical structural format. So when ice melts in Antartica, it releases water to the Indian Ocean that, then, pushes extra water — after holding what it could — to the Arabian Sea. I told my friend to imagine like he is walking back from the Abyssal Plain to the beach, and it is exactly like this waking-back that oceans/seas push water to the shores, thus, water encroaching onto the land.
As our village is connected to the Arabian Sea, a part of the Antarctica water reaches to our village, too, as seen in the increasing water levels and its encroaching onto our village lands. I also told him the same thing happened when ice melted in the Arctic.
He asked me what we could do to reduce or stop global warming. I told him that there were lots of things our governments could do to bring down global warming. But at personal level, we can do many things: walk, instead of hiring a taxi or auto rickshaw, if the distance is small — this will bring down fuel consumption, hence, less production of greenhouse gases that cause global warming; avoid wasting electricity by switching of electric gadgets and lights when they are not needed — less coal or diesel burning to produce electricity; car pooling; using public transport whenever possible; demanding from our legislative and parliamentary representatives to bring laws needed to cut down carbon-footage; planting trees, etc. are some of the ways we can contribute at personal level to mitigate global warming.
As more and more ice melts in Antarctica and Arctic, my friend, me, my villagers and scores of villagers around the world and all of us are getting affected, irrespective of how far away we are from those places. We need to fight global warming as a society as well as do our bits at personal levels.