October 22, 2021

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Climate Change Killed Over 14% Of The World’s Coral In The Last Decade Alone

The world lost over 14 percent of its ocean coral between the years 2009 and 2018 due to rising global temperatures, according to the Global Reef Monitoring Network (GRMN).

In a damning new report, the group—made up of researchers who work closely to monitor the health of coral reef ecosystems in the world’s oceans to conserve and manage them—has revealed that climate change is having a catastrophic effect on coral ecosystems and without quick action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, very little coral ecosystems will survive.

“Coral reefs are the canary in the coal mine telling us how quickly it can go wrong,” David Obura, lead editor of the report and chairman of the coral specialist group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature told the New York Times. “The 14 percent decline is a cause for deep concern. In finance, we worry about half-percent declines and half-percent changes in employment and interest rates.”

According to the report, the first global coral bleaching event – when coral turns white due to external stressors, and lose their ability to support marine life – occurred in 1998. However, many coral ecosystems survived and bounced back from the event. That seems to be no longer the case currently.

The report found that along with rising ocean temperatures, coastal development, declining water quality, and overfishing were all factors placing continuous stress on the world’s coral reefs.

According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the analysis is the largest of its kind to have ever been undertaken. The analysis used data from over two million observations made by over 300 scientists from nearly 12,000 sites in 73 countries over 40 years.

Despite coral reefs accounting for a relatively minor area among the world’s oceans, they have an outsized impact. They are an import source of protein in the form of fishing for over a billion people in the world.

Cover Image: Shutterstock

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