Scientists from around the world have issued a call for humanity to reduce the damage it is doing to coral reefs. Reefs are the foundations of tropical marine ecosystems and provide essential "natural services" to island communities such as food and protection from erosive wave action.
Meeting in Indonesiaheart of the worlds marine biological diversity1,500 scientists from more than 50 countries discussed breakthroughs in understanding the health of coral reefs and addressed the serious degradation that coral reefs are suffering at the hands of human beings. A nine-member scientific panel representing the majority of scientists at the Ninth International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Bali and including some of the worlds pre-eminent marine biologists concluded that, barring major reforms, "coral reefs face a bleak future."
The panel called upon the nations of the world to reduce their emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Panel representative Yossi Loya, professor at Tel Aviv University and winner of the International Society for Reef Studies 2000 Darwin Award for lifetime contribution to coral reef science, declared, "As a coral reef society, we add our voice to the growing international concern on the issue of global climate change, and call for an effective reduction in greenhouse emissions over the next decade."
The overwhelming majority of scientists at the Bali conference agreed that climate change is having a significant impact on the worlds coral reefs. High water temperaturessuch as the record sea surface temperatures reached throughout the tropics during the 1997-98 El Nino Southern Oscillation event--cause coral to "bleach" or expel the algae they live symbiotically with. Bleaching starves and often kills corals. It also makes them more susceptible to marine diseases. Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, also directly harm corals, whose skeletal growth declines in carbon dioxide-enriched wat
Contact: Valerie Holford