Worldwide Coral Reefs Are In “Dire Threat”

coral-reefsA new US report demonstrates that climate change and a variety of other factors could destroy all of the world’s coral reefs by 2050.

Coral reefs are more than just a pretty place for divers to pass their time. They are absolutely essential to the proper functioning of international marine ecosystems, and to the communities who rely on fishing and other marine activities for their living. Development, agricultural runoff, overfishing, and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are just a few of the factors that have threatened coral reefs to such an extent that US government and non-government organizations have issued a very stern warning: if we don’t fix our behavior, we could lose all of our reefs as early as 2050.

Up 15% since 1998, the report “Reefs at Risk” found that 75% of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened.

Jane Lubchenco with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that land, coastal and water pressures are converging to create a perfect storm of threats, which have gone from worrisome to dire.

In addition to attracting tourism, coral reefs provide an essential haven to fish and otherwise preserve marine biodiversity. More than 500 million people worldwide depend on them for their food and livelihood.

By 2030, 90% of the world’s reefs could be completely destroyed. Reefs provide $30 billion each year in benefits, benefits that we will lose entirely by 2050 if we don’t take measures to combat the factors contributing to their decline.

Both carbon dioxide emissions that alter the chemical composition of oceans and warmer temperatures are detrimental to coral growth. Other pressures include over-fishing, destructive fishing methods,  agricultural run-off, unsustainable development, ships that drag anchors and chains across the reefs, and  tourism.

:: Khaleej Times

More on coral reefs throughout the Middle East:

Israeli Researchers Find Coral Reefs Deep In The Mediterranean

Rebuilding Abu Dhabi’s Coral Reefs One Disc At A Time

EU Gives $4 Million To Med and Red Sea Coral Reef Studies

image via Margaret Wertheim

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4 thoughts on “Worldwide Coral Reefs Are In “Dire Threat””

  1. Shelley, you’ve asked the million dollar question. I think the best you can do is live by example, gently, respectfully, and without forcing it down other people’s throats. If people see the improvements in your life based on your ecological enlightenment, it could start to rub off. I think most governments now realize that people+nature=survival; now we have to generate the political will to get unhooked from our former ways. The people will necessarily follow (just like we all jumped on the car-wagon…)

  2. Shelley says:

    How do we get people to start realizing that the natural world and people go hand in hand? We are sitting by watching things going pear shaped and as a whole, not really doing much about it. Everyone is so focused on how much money they can make while they can (and we have to focus on this because odds are we will get some sort of weird cancer from pollution one day and need expensive hospitalization). But its depressing to think about and my own sister told me that she doesn’t want to hear about any of it. She is only 20 years old. It makes me sad. I really want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

  3. My pleasure Greg; but how do we get governments in developing countries to recognize that it’s not people vs. coral, but that the coral and the people go hand in hand?

  4. Greg says:

    The importance of reefs to our ecosystem can not be over-stated. I’ve seen the destruction of coral systems first hand here in the U.S. It is alarming but it doesn’t appear to be the priority it should be. Thx for providing the info; I hope governments start listening.

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