Climate change impacts Great Barrier Reef, more changes prevalent in our environment.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the biggest and most beautiful natural wonders of the world. The reef is more than 1400 miles long, and visible from space. This magnificent structure is the largest living creature in the world, and is over 25 million years old. It is home to 2900 different reefs, 1050 islands, 3000 species of mollusk, 1625 species of fish, 220 species of birds, and 30 species of both whales and dolphins. Larger than the land area of the United Kingdom, the natural phenomenon hosts the largest breeding ground for Green Turtles.
This great and expansive formation is amazing, but what are we, the caretakers of this world, doing to keep it thriving and prospering? For a very long time, the reef showed signs of slow deterioration. Now however, we are noticing this problem become more common and prevalent in this ecosystem. The main issue lies among the ignorance and naivety of younger generations. Most new (and old) scientists aren’t convinced Climate Change is a problem , or even plausible. This causes people to create less and less environmental projects and passions, further accelerating the damage. One crucial event happening near Australia has cast a spotlight on the taboo subject.
The Great Barrier Reef, along with other smaller reefs around the world, are experiencing a global phenomena known as coral bleaching. Each individual coral has algae living on its surface, which cause the vibrant colors that are visible from space. The corals survive by feeding on the sugars the algae create. When temperatures become too high, the algae then produce too much oxygen. If the oxygen is released at an alarming rate and concentrated, it can become toxic to its host.
In order to stay alive, the coral then rejects the algae, and begins to turn a bone-white color. Because the corals can no longer feed without danger of oxygen overdose, they begin to starve. Should the corals fail to recruit new algae, death is inevitable within months.
A timeline can be found with the bleaching In order to stay alive, the coral then rejects the algae, and begins to turn a bone-white color. Because the corals can no longer feed without danger of oxygen overdose, they begin to starve. Should the corals fail to recruit new algae, death is inevitable within months.
A timeline can be found with the bleaching most drastic from1981 to present day. In 1981, scientists noticed the rising temperature of the ocean had a direct reflection on the amount of bleaching that occurred in certain corals. Because of this, the theory of climate change has grown. During the late 90s and early 2000s, the oceans began absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere, making it more acidic. This caused a great amount of bleaching in reefs worldwide. Today, almost 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has experienced some level of bleaching. The most severe deterioration is occurring in the Northern sector with less than 1% of the 522 corals undamaged. The Central Sector, with 226 corals, is 33% severely bleached, while the Southern sector, with 163 reefs, has only 1% of troubling damage. These levels of bleaching are expected only to get much worse. Because of the El Niño and climate change this past year, 12% of reefs all around the world have been bleached.
“That warming trend is expected to continue through the year, leading to what may be the longest global coral bleaching event in history,” National Geographic said in their story on the matter.
Other experts will deny the existence of Climate Change and resist the push for new policies to be formed in favor of protecting the notion. Another view sees the problem but are convinced that the worry is blown way out of proportion. Of course, with the decline rate right now, no worldwide-effecting event should happen for many many years. The main reason for skeptics’ criticism is the un-supported claims of “tree huggers” who pursue the power of science without obtaining any knowledge. However, the statistics are clear: the world is on the slow but sure path of deterioration.
This climate change issue, and coral bleaching, is prevalent in our day and age. This upcoming generation shouldn’t have the mentality that “someone else will do it”. It’s time for humanity to step up in their responsibilities of taking care of the planet we were given, and begin a plan of action to stop, or at least slow down, the advancement of the end of the natural world. Whether it’s stopping or slowing the use of fossil fuels, conserving energy day by day, upgrading crucial infrastructure, or the control of methane leaks, there are solutions out there waiting to be discovered. All humanity has to do is reach for the results necessary to save the future generations.