If a Blue Ocean Event takes place as a result of increasing changes to the climate, then things are likely to get very real, very fast. Knowing the main principles behind this situation, the likely repercussions if it occurs, and how to respond to these changes are going to be increasingly imperative.
When it comes to thinking about climate change, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re probably picturing melting polar ice and the subsequent issues this would bring about around the world.
While you may not know it, one of the things you’re thinking of in this case is what’s known among some climatologists as the ‘Arctic Blue Ocean Event’, ‘Blue Ocean Event’, or simply ‘BOE’.
Wherever you sit on the topic of man-made contributions to a changing climate, the implications of a potential Blue Ocean Event are too serious to ignore and when it comes to preparedness – particularly for a topic such as climate change – being ahead of the curve and ready to adapt is absolutely critical.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at what exactly a Blue Ocean Event would mean in the context of the effects on the planet as well as possible resulting scenarios, and of course, the best ways to prepare for such an outcome ahead of time.
Let’s get started by taking a look at what exactly a Blue Ocean Event is.
What Does Blue Ocean Event Mean?
At the most basic level, Blue Ocean Event is the term used by scientists to refer to a complete absence of Arctic sea ice for a period of time in a year.
While this is troubling enough, what makes things worse is that if this happens at all, it’s likely to last progresively longer each year until finally reaching a point where there is no ice in the Arctic for the entire year.
The ice in the Arctic region is said to have high albedo, which basically means that it’s white and is therefore able to reflect a lot of the energy from the sun.
With this in mind, if this ice were to disappear, just leaving ocean in its place, then a lot more of the sun’s energy will be absorbed by the blue ocean water (which has a low albedo) instead.
More than this though, the presence of this ice actually helps to keep the local region colder as a lot of the heat from the summer is used up melting the ice which is beneficial to helping protect the permafrost in the region while also keeping methane deposits around the region contained and under control.
So why does this all matter?
Outcome #1 – Permafrost Melt
There are a couple of seriously worrying reasons why a Blue Ocean Event is a game-changer but one of the most important is that if the Arctic ice goes completely, one of the major concerns is that the permafrost in areas such as Siberia will begin to take on the absorption role and will begin to heat up considerably faster than it does naturally.
If this permafrost melts, methane (which is usually trapped) will begin to be emitted in potentially large volumes.
Long story short, when it comes to global warming, methane is significantly worse than CO2, so any release of this would be like throwing gas on a fire that we already can’t put out.
Outcome #2 – Further Climate Disruption
Looking beyond methane related problems, there are serious repercussions which could likely take place as a result of a disappearance of Arctic sea ice.
Unhelpfully – and as with so much when it comes to the topic of climate change – some of these knock-on effects can be difficult to predict.
With that being said, one of the widely held beliefs is that a serious effect of a Blue Ocean Event will almost certainly be a disruption to global ocean circulation patterns.
While this may not sound like a big deal, the consequences of this would probably be huge and would likely exacerbate the other effects of climate change which will almost certainly be underway – think extreme weather events, serious flooding, droughts and famine.
Climate change makes all of these things probable over the coming years, a Blue Ocean Event would almost certainly make them happen quicker and with more severity.
Will a Blue Ocean Event Occur?
While nothing is a certainty when it comes to predicting the specifics in climate science, the major proponents of the Blue Ocean Event certainly think that it’s likely to occur (at the earliest) in the next few years, maybe as early as 2021 according to some researchers.
It’s important to note that as with most issues relating to the effects of climate change, part of the problem is there’s simply no way of knowing exactly what is going to happen and when so it’s virtually impossible to say with any certainty if a specific outcome will happen, how bad it will be, and when it will start.
This makes preparing for climate change related emergencies very different to preparing for events which we already have a historic precedent for – things like serious storms, wildfires, or flooding (all of which ironically are likely to drastically increase as a result of a changing climate).
What is a certainty on the other hand is the historic data that climate scientists and researchers use to analyze climate change trends to date and from there, many of the current predictions are then made.
It’s from this baseline that we should look to prepare for the worst and from here that it’s possible to begin planning for potential worst-case scenario outcomes.
How to Prepare for a Blue Ocean Event
The key to planning for any emergency situation begins with thinking about how an event is likely to effect you if it were to take place in its most serious form – for example if you’re planning for an earthquake, you want to plan as if you’re preparing for a major quake, not minor tremors, meaning you’ll be covered for every eventuality.
The same logic applies to preparing for a Blue Ocean Event – while it’s not known how bad things could get if this were to occur, we can get a pretty good idea of the kind of thing that could be expected and plan for this eventuality accordingly.
It’s a given that if a BOE appears to be underway, that it’s going to be happening as a result of (and alongside) wider climate changes.
This means that as well as preparing for the specific worst-case outcomes of a Blue Ocean Event, you’re going to want to be doing so as part of a wider set of preparations for general climate change disruption.
If you haven’t done so already, check out this guide to get started on preparing a climate change response strategy.
As we discussed earlier, the specific eventualities that could unfold around a Blue Ocean Event would likely be around melting permafrost and subsequent methane release (ramped up global warming) and possible changes to ocean circulation norms (increase in severe weather events).
With this in mind, knowing how to prepare for a Blue Ocean Event means knowing how to plan against the adversity these things will bring about.
Carry Out a Personal Assessment
Start by asking some simple questions about where you live and the kinds of issues which have historically affected the area.
Is it prone to hurricanes or tropical storms? Is there a history of inland or coastal flooding? Does it experience extremes in temperature in either winter and/or summer?
If the answer to any or multiple of these questions is yes, then you can be relatively certain that melting Arctic sea ice will play an increasing role in the future frequency and severity of these kinds of events where you live if we enter a period where a BOE is underway.
Even if these immediate weather events don’t have a direct impact on your location, it’s important to note that these will only constitute a proportion of the possible consequences of a Blue Ocean Event and other after-effects such as catastrophic methane release will cause both direct and indirect adverse conditions for almost everyone on the planet.
The good news is that we’re going to look at how you can build a strategy which will allow you to quickly and effectively adapt if and when any of the above takes place.
Preparing for Rapid and Increasing Climate Changes
Arguably the biggest threat posed by a Blue Ocean Event is that it could signal a rapid increase in the rate of climate change.
If the rate of climate change begins to increase as the level of Arctic sea ice reduces each year (until we reach a year-round BOE) then increased global temperatures and catastrophic weather events will likely be the immediate consequences once the Event is underway.
In this part of the guide we’ll be looking at general preparedness planning steps that should be taken before this happens as well as specific strategies to consider in addition to this to cover you against specific situations.
Climate Change Preparedness
As the effects of climate change begin to make themselves felt, the consequences on everyday life will be experienced both environmentally and economically with both of these very likely leading to geopolitical and social issues such as domestic unrest, mass-migration, and even armed conflict as resource scarcity becomes increasingly devastating.
All of this means that it’s particularly important to put together a general preparedness strategy at home today to allow for a level of resilience and adaptation when the very worst effects of climate change begin to manifest.
Food and Water
Assuming shelter and warmth are taken care of (consider investing in a high quality multi-season tent as a redundancy here), the priority for home preparedness planning in the event of a major climate deterioration is the provision of clean drinking water and food.
Water Preparedness Strategy
It probably comes as little surprise that clean drinking water is fundamental to human life and wellbeing.
The problem of course is that when times are good, we take for granted the fact that we have 24/7 access to this critical resource, literally on tap.
In the event of an escalating climate emergency such as a BOE taking place however, the provision of clean drinking water simply isn’t guaranteed.
With this in mind, it’s essential that multiple redundancies are in place to make sure that your supply of safe water is secured, no matter what’s going on in the outside world.
Keeping a store of clean drinking water is always a good idea and should be incorporated as part of any emergency food pantry strategy you’re thinking of putting in place (see Food Preparedness Strategy below) however storing enough bottled drinking water for a prolonged period of time takes a lot of space and the shelf-life of bottled water is always going to have its limits.
Because of this, it’s imperative that your water security strategy involves the ability to filter questionable water to make it for safe for human consumption.
Ultimately there are two ways to get this done; some kind of physical or mechanical filtration (water filters or methods such as boiling) and chemical purification.
When it comes to the crunch, a physical water filtering system of some kind should be considered an absolute essential in your preparedness planning and an emergency home water filter provides peace of mind for ensuring access to safe drinking water at all times.
Similarly, investing in a portable water filter which works on similar principles (but at a reduced size suitable for carrying) is equally valuable as a component of a comprehensive bug out bag if you need to leave home in a hurry.
Chemical water purification (such as iodine) is a good fall-back to mechanical or gravity-fed filter systems but should be stocked as a secondary contingency in case of the first choice failing.
Food Preparedness Strategy
There are almost countless scenarios in which the supply of food we’ve all come to rely on will probably be threatened by the effects of climate change – expect these to move faster and harder if a Blue Ocean Event speeds up the timeline.
From record heatwaves and droughts slashing the supply of food grown to any number of events (both natural and man-made) that could choke off food logistics, the chances of empty shelves are highly likely while the chances of increased food prices year on year are going to be absolutely inevitable.
With this in mind, a crucial pillar to any home preparedness strategy for a Blue Ocean Event or for a changing climate in general is to ensure you build up a resilient food stockpile for a significant period of time.
Emergency Meal Kits and MRE-style solutions
One of the best ways to ensure a reliable nutrition supply for almost any emergency situation is to invest in a high-quality, long shelf-life emergency meal kit or survival food system.
The best survival food kits typically offer a range of easy to prepare, long life meal solutions which cover the full range of human nutrition requirements for a set length of time ranging anywhere from a week, to months, and even a full year’s worth of emergency food.
Easy to store, simple to cook (many can even be eaten cold if required), and often offering a lot of meal choices for variety, emergency meal kits are the perfect way to build a survival food pantry with a use-by date which usually stretches up to 20-30 years if unopened.
Canned Food and Other Long-Life Preserved Food Options
Another traditional option for many people looking to prepare an emergency food stockpile is to go down the route of canned food or others which offer a long storage life (pickled, dried, salted, candied etc).
There are pros and cons to this approach with the benefits coming in the form of easy accessibility (you can grab them from the store today) while the drawbacks include a shelf life which while still long, is often considerably less than dedicated survival food kits.
A further disadvantage of canned food is that it simply takes up more space when stored.
With this in mind, if you’re looking to stock up on canned food, it’s usually a wise idea to invest in a dedicated can storage solution which will keep things tidy and organized as well as allowing at-a-glance views of expiration dates.
If you’re unsure which solution is going to be best for you, then generally speaking, a good strategy when it comes to preparing a long-term food storage contingency is to go for a varied approach which looks to mix a dedicated survival meal kit offering alongside a more conventional canned and preserved food supply.