Coral reef gloom and doom in the news

The GBRMPA report Ove covered yesterday and several related reports about the threats to and economic value of coral reefs made international headlines today.

from Reuters:

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living organism, is under grave threat from climate warming and coastal development, and its prospects of survival are “poor,” a major new report found on Wednesday.

“We know that a failure to act on dangerous climate change puts at risk significant places like the Great Barrier Reef and this report confirms the scale of the challenge ahead,” Australia’s Environment Minister Peter Garrett said.

read the full story here

from the BBC:

Current climate targets are not enough to save the world’s coral reefs – and policymakers urgently need to consider the economic benefits they bring.

Those are two of the conclusions from a UN-backed project aiming to quantify the financial costs of damaging nature.  Studies suggest that reefs are worth more than $100bn (£60bn) annually, but are already being damaged by rising temperatures and more acidic oceans. The study puts the cost of forest loss at $2-5 trillion annually.

Looking ahead to December’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen, study leader Pavan Sukhdev said it was vital that policymakers realised that safeguarding the natural world was a cost-effective way of protecting societies against the impacts of rising greenhouse gas levels.

There are a number of somewhat notional targets on the table in the run-up to Copenhagen.  One, an EU initiative that now has much wider support, is to keep the global average temperature rise since the pre-industrial age within 2C – which according to some analyses means carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere cannot rise above 450 parts per million (ppm). The current level is about 387ppm, and it is rising at about 2ppm each year, although this year’s global recession may bring a blip.

Mr Sukhdev’s team heard evidence from coral scientists that these targets would not be enough to prevent damage to coral reefs around the tropics.

read the full story here

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