Climate Change and Coral Reefs: A Matter of Urgency

caribbeanclimate

Coral bleaching in American Samoa in the South Pacific. The left image was taken in December 2014; the right one was taken in February 2015, after a NOAA coral bleaching alert. XL Catlin Seaview Survey

If you have ever been snorkeling in a tropical paradise and seen the psychedelic colors and teeming variety of otherworldly sea critters, you were gazing upon something increasingly rare: a healthy coral reef. That site also does a lot more than dazzle vacationers. Coral reefs occupy just 0.1 percent of the oceans’ bottom but provide habitat to a quarter of the world’s fish species. They also prevent erosion along coastlines and buffer the impact of storms, providing protection, food, and livelihoods for about 500 million people.

A year ago, I warned that something “really, really terrible” was about to happen to the globe’s corals. Since then, that thing has come to pass. The world…

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