Coral reefs exposed to imminent destruction from climate change

Coral reef survival is balancing on a knife edge as the combined effects of ocean acidification and ocean warming events threaten to push reefs to the brink of extinction this century, warned a meeting of leading scientists.

Organised by ZSL, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the Royal Society, the meeting identified the level of atmospheric CO2 predicted to result in the demise of coral reefs.

At anticipated rates of emission increase, it is expected that 450 ppm CO2 will be reached before 2050. At that point, corals may be on a path to extinction within a matter of decades.



By 2050, the remaining coral reefs could fall victim to ocean acidification. Such a catastrophe would not be confined to reefs, but could start of a domino-like sequence of the fall of other marine ecosystems.

Sir David Attenborough who co-chaired the meeting said “We must do all that is necessary to protect the key components of the life of our planet as the consequences of decisions made now will likely be forever as far as humanity is concerned”.

Scientific evidence shows that we have long passed the point at which the marine environment offers reefs a guaranteed future.

ScienceDaily, 6 July 2009. Full article.

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