Coral reef are on track to be the first of the world’s ecosystems to be entirely wiped out by humans if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue. Some scientists estimate that coral reefs will disappear as soon as 2050, and a new review of major climate models from around the world proves that nearly all coral reefs could be gone by 2100. Increasing carbon emissions induced by human being has steadily lowered the pH of the ocean, which has harmed reefs and hindered their ability to build their calcium carbonate skeletons. The combined forces of acidifying and warming water, overfishing, and coastal pollution all contributed to the acceleration of the coral reef extinction.
“The coral bed had been entirely drained of color. I’d expected to see an underwater carpet of vivid pinks, yellows and purples, but the seabed looked as though it had been replaced by a polystyrene model, the color of concrete. It was profoundly shocking, and I swam anxiously back and forth trying to locate some evidence of the rich biodiversity from my visit two years previously. I ran out of air before I could find any.” Gaia Vince, an avid diver and BBC science broadcaster recollected such memories for her recent diving trip at cool Coral Sea, off the north-east coast of Australia. Scientists estimate over the past two decades at least 20% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest – has been destroyed, and up to 90% of coral died out in the Indian Ocean from East Africa to Maldives and Seychelles.
What is the impact of the extinction of coral reefs? To some people, the dying off of coral reefs might not seem very important to their daily life. However, the extinction of coral reef will not only mean a seabed with a lot less color, it will also mean an ocean with a lot less fish diversity, islands and coastlines a lot more prone to erosion, and millions of livelihoods threatened. Coral reefs support a quarter of marine life on Earth, from creating sandy beaches to harboring the fish people eat. They account for almost half of the GDP in many Caribbean countries. And as the sea levels rise, they provide vital protection against storm surges and inundation.
If any of these worries you, you should take action now. Although in some areas of the world replanting coral reefs is undertaken, the only serious way to protect this hugely productive marine ecosystem is to slash our carbon dioxide emissions. It’s time that we all start Going Blu. Take baby steps such as replacing your disposable drinking cups and plastic water bottles with sustainable stainless steel drink ware.
Tune in to GR8-White for the latest conservation news and ways that you can help our environment. Also, don’t forget that GR8-White donates a percentage of all sales through our Going Blu campaign to charities that are dedicated to preserving our Earth’s oceans and waterways.