Walls are our home’s defense, a barrier, a buffer from the harms beyond. Corals provide that buffer to coastal communities against waves, floods, storms and helps to prevent loss of life, property damage and erosion. A healthy coral reef ecosystem breaks down the wave speed and also prevents erosion along the coasts. When the reefs are destroyed, there are no buffers for these communities against the incoming sea. While there are many culprits to blame for the decline of coral reefs such as encroaching human development, pollution runoffs from human activities like toxic oil and chemical spills, failed septic systems and also fertilizers from the agriculture activities, all of which create unfavorable conditions and eventually kill the corals.
Coral reefs are very fragile ecosystems and even minute changes in the ocean’s conditions are detrimental to its existence. Coral reefs not only protect the coasts from wave surges, it is also the most diverse, productive and an essential ecosystem to millions of aquatic species as a source of food and safety to these species that call reefs home.Among all these culprits, climate change possesses an utmost global threat to coral reefs. “All scientific evidence, clearly indicates that the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean are warming, and that these changes are largely due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities.”1
The rise in temperature causes the corals to bleach which invites infectious diseases to occur more frequently. The greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide & carbon mono-oxide) that causes climate warming, is being absorbed into the ocean and has lowered its the pH value. This has caused ocean acidification and reduced the coral’s calcification rates and the ability to build new reefs. Climate change is also causing stronger and more frequent storms, rising sea levels and has altered the ocean circulation patterns. All these changes impact reefs tremendously eventually causing its demise and all its dependents to perish alongside.
It is paramount for the population to recognize that Climate Change means Ocean Change. The ever so fragile coral reef is a barometer for our earth’s condition and if we continue in this destructive path towards poisoning our atmosphere, there will be no WALL to protect our communities from the wrath of the ocean.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders and it is the only living thing large enough that is visible from space. To have something like this be destroyed by human activity is truly a shame. Like Yudheer has said in his blog, the corals act as a “barrier and a buffer from harms.” Yet, with the pollution humans create even the barrier reefs could not withstand it. To further expand on Yudheer’s blog post, the warm water temperatures result in coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is a process that is a result of a stressed coral, and being under stress puts it at risk of dying. Corals react similarly to pollution, prolonged exposure to sun, and extremely cold temperatures as well. It takes as little as 1 degree Celsius fluctuation to cause the corals to bleach (Worland, 2016). Justin Worland states, “reefs occupy just 1% of the world’s marine environment, but they provide a home to a quarter of marine species-including a unique set of fish, turtles and algae.” Worland says the greatest concern is that over the next decades to come, the chance that the reefs will recover is very slim. This means that people will be affected directly because of our dependence on tourism and fishing. Australia alone, profits over $3 billion each year from tourism and diving in the reefs. In addition, it is predicted that about half of the reefs in Australia could disappear due to climate change and warming waters. The acidity of the water is also changing because of carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere from emission of fossil fuels (Howard, 2016). It is quite clear that climate change is directly impacting the marine life as well as every day needs of humans. Whether it be tourism or the availability of fresh fish, it is negatively affecting our environment in all ways.
Howard, B. C. (March 21, 2016). Corals Are Dying on the Great Barrier Reef. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160321-coral-bleaching-great-barrier-reef-climate-change/
Worland, J. (2016) An underwater investigation of coral in the South Pacific. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/coral/
thanks for this very informative comment, Jiaxin. You’ve expanded with some great facts.