Climate change and its effects on voyage planning

Few sailors would now disagree that global weather conditions are undergoing a radical change. The warming of the planet is unequivocal: the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea levels are rising, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

The recently published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a challenge to the international community to unite in its efforts to bring climate change under control by limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

Based on more than 6,000 scientific studies, the report was compiled by the world’s top climate scientists and its irrefutable conclusion is that the current pace of global warming is the “greatest challenge of our generation”. Its message is relevant to every human being on our planet.

Some of the changes have become increasingly evident.

  • The Arctic ice cap is melting at a faster rate than in any recorded time.
  • Coral is dying due to the oceans getting warmer.
  • Extra-seasonal tropical storms are more common.
  • The tropical storm seasons themselves are less clearly defined and becoming more active.
  • Tropical storms have affected areas where they had never occurred before.

There should no longer be any doubt that all this points to the warming of the oceans. And yet, despite all the evidence, there are still people who refuse to accept that climate change is a result of human activity, insisting that it is a cyclic phenomenon that has occurred repeatedly in the history of the planet.

This argument is often raised when I discuss this subject at my seminars on voyage planning. My answer is always the same: as far as we sailors are concerned, climate change is happening, and whether it is the result of human activity or a natural phenomenon is no longer a relevant argument. What really matters is that global weather conditions are changing.

Last week I discussed these matters at a lecture held in Brussels at the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs of the European Commission.

My presentation focused on the global effects over climate change on voyage planning and the audience included members of the Sailing Club of the European Commission.

A presentation of the same subject will be held at the Cruising Association in London, tomorrow evening.

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