-by Sven Gunnar Borén
Coral reefs need to be protected! As ‘rain forests of the sea’, they form some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, and provide home for about 25% of all marine species, and produce ecosystem services (e.g. tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection).
According to Ateweberhan et al. (2013), most coral reefs will be lost as effective systems in a few decades if we keep increasing the CO2 release to the atmosphere. The targeted limit of maximum 2 degrees raise (globally) is definitely not enough for survival of the reefs. The reefs are negatively affected by the CO2 increase as it increases the sea temperature and sea levels. That CO2 increase negatively affects the corals’ ability to form skeletons, which forms the basis for the reefs biodiversity. The over-abuse of reef systems (e.g. over-fishing and destruction by fishing means) is another stressor that leads to demise of the reefs.
This calls for protection of the coral reefs, especially those who are in international water, and urgent actions to decrease, rather than increase atmospheric man-made CO2 emissions.
Ateweberhan, et al. 2013. Climate change impacts on coral reefs: Synergies with local effects, possibilities for acclimation, and management implications. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 74: 526-539