It captivates our senses. The sheer tenacity has the ability to ensnare us. On the surface it glistens and shows us just enough to think we understand it, yet like all things that are out of human control its depth is unseen and holds the key to our well being.
With 71 percent of the world covered in it, the Ocean is the teller of the time. Inhabiting some of the oldest animals on the planet, it is safe to say it has seen it all. At this current moment in time, if we stick our head just below the surface we will see it is talking to us through the coral.
On the surface we might feel a slight changed in the temperature, heck we might even think its a cooler summer, however, beyond what we may personally feel, that one degree in temperature has a drastic impact on the ocean. With about 93 percent of the heat generated by fossil fuel being absorbed by the ocean, what some may call a ‘natural’ phenomenon is taking place. Coral is dying at an accelerated rate.
In the last 30 years, we have lost 50 percent of the world’s corals. The epidemic is directly attributed to global warming or climate change (whatever you want to call it bottom line we should agree it is human driven). The movie Chasing Coral, breaks through the Ocean’s surface and shows how the Ocean is handling the rise in temperature from the perspective of coral reefs and why it’s dying, also called ‘bleaching’.
The ocean absorbs 93% of the heat from the Earth’s atmosphere, without oceans the average temperature would be around 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The cause for the coral bleaching is so subtle because all it takes is a rise of 1 to 2 degrees in water temperature. Coral has evolved over a very long period of time and requires specific climate conditions. When a variable like temperature rises at an unprecedented rate, the coral can’t acclimate fast enough to this change and have ultimately reached a tipping point. The coral reef ecosystem is collapsing. Think about our own bodies, it would be as if you are living with a perpetual fever. Overtime, key organs would begin to break down. Much like what is occurring in the Ocean. The Ocean’s key organs, the coral, are being bleached and ultimately dying.
To put this into perspective one fifth of the Australian Great Barrier Reef died in 2016.
This graph comes from Chasing Coral and shows due to anthropogenic climate change (environmental pollution and pollutants originating in human activity) the steady rise of atmospheric temperatures is mirrored in the oceans, as a steady rise in water temperatures.
In our lifetime it is projected that we will see the eradication of an entire ecosystem.
Wake Up & Read
- U.S. Cities, States and Businesses Pledge to Measure Emissions
- Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change
- Two Weeks on Ice in McMurdo Station, Antarctica
- Coral Reefs and Tourism
- 14 Easy Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint