Reducing Fossil Fuel Use Only Way to Save Dying Corals

Another important reason why continuing to burn more fossil fuels is very dangerous for all of us. Excerpts from July 2008 article — Stephen 

‘The world’s fossil fuel economy is like the Titanic — we know its going to hit an iceberg but it takes a very long time to stop a really big ship..’

By Stephen Leahy

FORT LAUDERDALE, U.S., July 12, 2008 (IPS)

The rapid decline of coral reefs around the world offers a potent warning that entire ecosystems can collapse due to human activities, although there is hope for reefs if immediate action is taken, coral experts agreed at the conclusion of a five-day international meeting Friday.

“Reefs are in serious trouble, but don’t write them off,” Terry Hughes, a marine ecologist at Australia’s James Cook University told 3,000 scientists, conservationists and policy makers attending at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We can save reefs if we take immediate action,” Hughes said.

More than 20 percent of the world’s reefs have died, and large areas are failing due to a combination of climate change, overfishing, pollution and sea level rise. Most of the fabulous corals that attract tourists to the Caribbean are gone and half of remaining reefs in the U.S. are in serious decline.

[Update 2010 – Here’s a list of Stephen Leahy’s latest articles on corals Coral Reefs and Acid Oceans Series]

We may be facing ocean deserts in the future,” said Guillermo Dias-Pulido of Australia’s University of Queensland.

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Reefs and Forests Burn as Climate Disruption Takes Hold NOW


A lot of coral reefs have died this year due to unprecedented ocean heating largely due to climate change. I broke that story last summer. Few coral reefs will survive the next 50 years most experts say without immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

 

 

Forests are next in line according a new study in PNAS. Huge uncontrollable wildfires will dominate forest landscapes of the near future without dramatic reductions in the burning of fossil fuels the study found.

I would have done a full article explaining all this but simply can’t find a publication willing to pay me to do the work. That’s why I am trying community supported journalism where readers donate small amounts so these articles get done and made available for millions to read.

— Stephen (November 10 2010)

Tackling Climate Change Only Way to Halt Species Extinction Crisis and Declines

An IPCC for Species Needed

By Stephen Leahy

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 26, 2010 (IPS)

A major change in the direction of economic development is essential to avoid the catastrophic unraveling of Earth’s ecosystems that support all life, a new global analysis published in the journal Science revealed Tuesday.

Climate change, pollution, deforestation and other forms of land use change are pushing species into extinction, reducing their abundance and home ranges.

Human societies and infrastructures have evolved with and rely on particular sets of species and ecosystems and now these are being reshuffled,” said Paul Leadley of the University Paris-Sud in France who led the study.

“Even optimistic scenarios for this century consistently predict extinctions and shrinking populations of many species,” Leadley told IPS by telephone from France.

The goal of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2020 is under intense negotiation this week in Nagoya at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, based on five recent global environmental assessments, Leadley says that ending biodiversity loss by 2020 is sadly “unrealistic”.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism.

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Locally-Run Protected Areas Could Reverse Fisheries’ Death Spiral

 

Great Barracuda and Jacks, Diamond Rock, Saba,...
Image via Wikipedia

 

One third of all species of sharks, rays and reef-building corals are facing extinction while governments spend $27 billion subsidizing overfishing

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2010 (IPS)

Local fishers objected to the creation of a new no-fishing marine protected area off the coast of Belize in 1996. Today they are benefiting from the bounty of fish spilling out of the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Tourism has also boomed, illustrating the multiple benefits and value of marine protected areas, according to a new series of reports released Wednesday by Conservation International (CI).

“The ocean is in crisis but we can’t see it with our own eyes so we’re not aware of what is happening,” said Leah Bunce Karrer, co-author and director of the Marine Management Area Science Programme at CI.

“Marine managed areas offer a solution which could significantly reduce ocean degradation while benefiting local communities,” Karrer told IPS.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism.

One third of all species of sharks, rays and reef-building corals are facing extinction. “Most people don’t realise that,” said Gregory Stone, chief ocean scientist at CI.

“As species disappear, entire ecosystems are altered in negative ways we don’t even want to imagine,” Stone said.

Only a fraction of one percent of the world’s oceans are effectively protected even though there is growing scientific consensus of the need to protect at least 20 percent of the seas. Continue reading

What if our air was 30% more acidic like the Oceans? May be 120% more acidic by 2060

Bleached coastal corals. Bantry Bay, Australia. R Leahy 2006

[2°C is a death sentence for corals scientists agree due to ocean acidification and bleaching resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However the developed nations of the world have set 2 degrees C as the climate stabilization target not that any of them have figured out how to reach this target. It is as if the oceans don’t matter. This reflects a fundamental ignorance about life on Earth, an assumption that we can lose or seriously damage entire ecosystems without suffering any consequences.

This story shows we need to get serious about tackling emission reductions (below 2C) and preserving anything that sequesters or traps carbon because these will be tremendously valuable in a climate-changed world . — Steve

By Stephen Leahy*

COPENHAGEN, Dec 11 (IPS/TerraViva)

What would it be like if the air we breathe was 30 percent more acidic? The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic, and on their way to becoming 120 percent more acidic in 50 years at the current rates of carbon dioxide emissions.

Acidification is already affecting coral reefs, algae and plankton, the base of many marine food chains, according to a new report released here by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“In the last 10 years, the growth of coral reefs in many areas has declined 15 percent,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of the IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.

“That’s a dramatic shift,” Lundin told TerraViva.

The oceans absorb some carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, but the vast quantity being emitted – mainly from the burning of fossil fuels – has altered basic ocean chemistry, turning it sour. That’s also affecting shell-forming plankton and disrupting the growth rates of other species, Lundin said.

The stated goal of many countries to stabilise global temperatures within an increase of no more than 2.0 degrees C. is still “a death sentence for most coral reefs”, he said. The 2.0 C. target implies a level of CO2 in the atmosphere of 450 parts per million (ppm), well up from the historical average of 280 ppm. Continue reading

Cutting CO2 Only Way to Save Dying Corals

By Stephen Leahy

FORT LAUDERDALE, U.S., July 12 2008 (IPS)

The rapid decline of coral reefs around the world offers a potent warning that entire ecosystems can collapse due to human activities, although there is hope for reefs if immediate action is taken, coral experts agreed at the conclusion of a five-day international meeting Friday.

“Reefs are in serious trouble, but don’t write them off,” Terry Hughes, a marine ecologist at Australia’s James Cook University told 3,000 scientists, conservationists and policy makers attending at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We can save reefs if we take immediate action,” Hughes said.

More than 20 percent of the world’s reefs have died, and large areas are failing due to a combination of climate change, overfishing, pollution and sea level rise. Most of the fabulous corals that attract tourists to the Caribbean are gone and half of remaining reefs in the U.S. are in serious decline.

[Update 08/10 – Here’s a list of Stephen Leahy’s latest articles on corals Coral Reefs and Acid Oceans Series]

We may be facing ocean deserts in the future,” said Guillermo Dias-Pulido of Australia’s University of Queensland.

Continue reading

A Third of Corals Face Extinction

By Stephen Leahy
FORT LAUDERDALE, U.S., Jul 10 (IPS) – One third of reef-building corals already face extinction because of climate change, the first-ever global assessment has found.

Reefs are made up of hundreds of coral species, and a two-year study to determine the current status of corals has discovered that 231 of the 704 species assessed will be “red-listed” Thursday. This means these 231 species meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Criteria for species at risk of extinction in the near future.

Previously, only 10 species of corals had been red-listed, mainly because no proper assessment had been done before.

“We were not expecting the numbers to be that high,” said Suzanne Livingstone of the IUCN’s Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) in Norfolk, Virginia. The paper was published Thursday in Science.

If the same assessment of corals had been done 20 years ago, only 13 of the 704 species would have been red-listed, Livingstone told IPS at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. However, in that short time span, climate change has warmed the oceans and begun to make them more acidic and corals are suffering.

“It’s frightening when you think about it,” she said.

Continue reading