Coral reefs will vanish by 2100, warn experts

Kota Kinabalu: Coral reefs will disappear by 2100 as ocean acidification intensifies in tandem with climate change, top brass speakers warned at the 1st Sulu Sulawesi Sea (SSS) Conference at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Wednesday.”I didn’t plug that prediction out of the sky, I got it from a study on the state of marine ecoregions,” said Captain Zaharuddin Mohd Maideen who spoke on ‘Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security’.

Calling for a sharp focus where it counts, Zaharuddin from the National Oceanography Directorate (NOD), he ended his talk with this quote: “The ocean doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts, it gives you what you demand with your action.”

The bad news is, even if all CO2 emissions were to stop now, it would take 10,000 years for ocean acidification to abate, he said.

“Our problem is a lot of ministries are looking after the seas. So which Ministry is supposed to spearhead policy on the oceans?”

Because the statutory authority on seas overlaps, it often cause counter inter-ministry jurisdictional claims where one Ministry says “it’s theirs”, another insists “it’s ours”, Capt Zaharuddin noted.

“We are in the midst of rationalising matters and I suggest one Ministry do ocean policy and other ministries come under this Ministry,” said Capt Zaharuddin from Mosti. A total of 525 billion tons of CO2 have been emitted to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution began in England in 1760 to 1850, or an equivalent of 22 tons a day! Initially scientists felt good about the oceans being a huge carbon sink.

But about 10 years ago, they were alarmed by the cost to ocean chemistry when dissolved C02 caused ocean water to become acidic following detection of a pH drop or 30pc more acidic – faster than any known change in ocean chemistry over the last 50 million years, according to a study by the Institute of Physics which predicted disappearance of coral reefs by 2100.

Ocean acidification is now labelled Climate Change’s “evil twin”.

Given their insight into the dire consequences of ocean acidification, the 50,000-strong London-based Institute of Physics predicts collapse of coral reefs because politicians and governments don’t understand the gravity of the problem and act far too weakly and below par to combat it.

In an earlier presentation on ‘Addressing Resources and Environmental Management for Sustainable Livelihoods’, Masrisazlin Bakri of the Marine Institute of Malaysia (Mima) repeated the threats and challenges to Coral Triangle touted the epi-centre of global marine diversity and richness, where 85pc of the world’s coral species and more than one-third of the fish species are found.

However, the response to these threats and challenges typically feature weak political will, or more accurately, political interest; lack of money and loss of territories to aggressive coastal development and even soft sea-beds to damaging trawling practices. (…)

Daily Express (East Malaysia), 19 November 2015. Article.

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