The largest living structures on Earth and the millions of livelihoods which depend upon them are at risk, the most definitive review yet of the impact of rising carbon emissions on coral reefs has concluded.
In a paper published in the prestigious Science Magazine today, 17 eminent marine scientists reveal that world leaders face a race against time in preparing coral reefs and the coastal communities dependent upon them for the inevitable impact of rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earths atmosphere.
On the eve of the International Year of the Reef 2008 the scientists, from seven countries, have warned that most coral reefs will not survive the rapid increases in global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 that are forecast over this century by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released its report a few weeks ago, unless drastic action is taken to curb CO2 emissions.
The scientists, who are leading members of the international Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building for Management Program (CRTR), argue that rising global CO2 emissions represent an irreducible risk that will rapidly outstrip the capacity of local coastal managers and policy-makers to maintain the health of these critical ecosystems, if CO2 emissions are allowed to continue unchecked.
"This crisis is on our doorstep, not decades away. We have little time in which to respond, but respond, we must! says Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the Science paper, The Carbon Crisis: Coral Reefs under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification.
The livelihoods of 100 million people living along the coasts of tropical developing countries will be among the first major casualties of rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere, says Professor Hoegh-Guldberg.
The warmer and more acidic oc
|Contact: Mark Paterson|
Coral Reef Targeted Research Program