As we continue our Earth Week and climate coverage, one topic that may seem a world away from the Bay Area but could impact most of us is all held in the coral reefs off the coast of Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to 2,900 reefs and is the world’s largest zone. However, the last 50 years ocean temperatures have warmed 5 to 8 degrees causing coral reef damage. There’s been a whopping 50% coral loss in the past three decades
Checkout the image below and you’ll see the comparison of healthy coral reef and then what happens when ocean temperatures warm. The white color you’ll see in the second picture is coral bleaching which happens as the coral starts weakening which could lead to death. This threatens many species with potential cascading impacts.
While this is obviously not good news off the coast of Australia why should the rest of us care globally and in the Bay Area? Well, the Great Barrier Reef is home to millions of species, reef provides beach erosion protection and millions depend on it for food & jobs. How could we be impacted globally and in the Bay Area by coral reef loss in the future? There’s the eye opening fact that coral reef is a “medicine cabinet” to the world. It’s where new medicines are researched for cancer, viruses, heart disease, arthritis and even bacterial infections.
So, keeping the coral healthy could also keep us healthy in the future.
The good news, new research shows we can all make a difference and avoid these consequences from getting worse with substantial cuts in emissions and greenhouse gases. This is something we can all participate in by lowering our carbon footprint. You can find out more about our changing climate and all of our stories in this link.