Sunday, July 20, 2008

Could Coral Reefs Really Be In Danger?

By: Jenny Walters

A recent featured report on National Public Radio (NPR) entitled Study: Global Coral Crisis Is In Full Bloom, by John Nielsen dealt with the increasing loss of coral reefs around the world.

According to Nielsen, “coral reefs around the world are in bad shape these days.”[1] A recently published paper by Kent Carpenter, a reef expert at Virginia’s Old Dominion University, reported, “as much as a third of the world’s coral species may now be headed toward extinction, thanks to problems ranging from destructive fishing boats to ocean waters warmed by global climate change.”

Carpenter went on to state “problems faced by these important ecosystems may be worse than a lot of experts think they are…A third of the world’s coral species are now declining toward extinction, partly owing to increased outbreaks of coral diseases…This is a whole ecosystem that we could potentially be losing.”1

Carpenter’s paper was prepared with the aid of the coral researchers affiliated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a nonprofit conservation group whose scientific work is widely thought to be definitive.1 The coral researchers put together the “‘red list’ that concludes that a third of the world’s coral species may be declining toward extinction.” The researchers also found some evidence of “a link between coral-killing diseases and warming ocean waters.”

Carpenter warns if emission of global warming gases is not reduced soon; even bigger problems will emerge.1 Currently, ocean waters are more acidic as they soak up carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. Although there is some evidence that coral reefs can adapt to warming waters, such as reefs in some parts of the far Pacific are now thriving in the warming waters, there is no proof they can cope with the more acidic oceans.

Carpenter concluded by saying, “Obviously the overarching problem that has to be solved is the [buildup of man-made] carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”1

To help solve the problem, wounded reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef have been put off limits to commercial fishermen.1 According to Philip Munday, a reef expert at Australia’s James Cook University reported, following the restriction of commercial fishermen, a large number of big fish have filled the area over a few years. Munday went on to state: “That gives us enormous hope that these populations…can rebound in they’re given the chance to do so. However, these programs won’t protect coral reef problems causes buy global warming, but they might help buy the reefs a little extra time.”

This article shed light on the overwhelming effects that global warming has on our planet. Global warming affects every aspect of our planet. It is everyone’s responsibility to help fight the effects of global warming.

[1] Nielson J. Study: global coral crisis is in full bloom. July 2008. Available at: Accessed on July 13, 2008.

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