According to a comprehensive international report on the state of the world’s coral reefs, the world has lost about 14% of its coral reefs in the decade since 2009.
This fall underscores the catastrophic effects of climate change, while also giving hope that some coral reefs could be saved if humans move quickly to control greenhouse gases.
– IUCN (@IUCN) October 2, 2021
“Coral reefs are canaries in coal mines that tell us how quickly it goes wrong,” said David Obura, one of the authors of the report and chairman of the Coral Expert Group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
He said the 14% decline was a cause for deep concern. “In finance, we are concerned about a half-percent decline and a half-percent change in employment and interest rates.”
Particularly frightening, the authors of the report, are on this path. The first global whitewash event occurred in 1998, but many rocks retreated. It seems that it will not be like that anymore.
“Since 2009, it has been a steady decline globally,” said Serge Blains, a research scientist at the Island Research and Environmental Surveillance Center in Muria, French Polynesia.
Although corals cover a small portion of the ocean floor, they do provide people with exaggerated benefits. Their fish provide an important source of protein for 1 billion people. Their limestone branches protect the beaches from storms.
Their beauty supports billions of dollars in tourism. They support an estimated $ 2.7 trillion a year in goods and services, according to a report by the International Coral Initiative, a coalition of countries and organizations working to protect corals worldwide.
Read more: Researchers first complete a detailed map of the world’s coral reefs
There may be as many as 900 species of coral, and some are more flexible to the heat and acidification that comes with climate change, the researchers said. Unfortunately, they are not the only rock formations that grow slowly and support the most familiar, rich biodiversity.
Terry Hughes, who runs the Coral Study Center at James Cook University in Australia and is not involved in the analysis, warned that extensive data collected by more than 300 scientists in 73 countries could turn to healthy rocks. .
“Researchers and surveillance programs often abandon degraded sites, or do not establish new studies because no one wants to study a rock full of sediment and algae instead of coral,” Hughes said.
However, he and the report stressed that coral reefs can be restored or regenerated if the world and global warming are curtailed. “Many of the world’s coral reefs are flexible and can recover if conditions permit,” the report says.
Although tackling climate change is the most important factor in storing coral reefs, scientists say reducing pollution is also very important. Coral reefs must be as healthy as possible to escape the already locked warming temperatures Destroying fishing practices can also harm the reefs.
The report comes ahead of world leaders discussing a new global agreement on biodiversity next week. While some seek to preserve the most ancient rocks, Obura said this approach may not be enough.
“People all over the world rely on rocks, we have to try a lot on ordinary rocks or all other rocks,” Obura said. “People need to be made to function so that their livelihoods can continue.”
This article first appeared The New York Times.