Coral reefs have several huge roles in the environment: they protect wildlife, millions of people rely on them for food, and they clean the waters, just to say the least. According to a recent study of underwater ecosystems done by a scientific group including Robert Richmond, who is a research professor from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the danger of the extinction of coral reefs is real.
The information is brought by Hawaii News Now, and if “the worst-case scenario” becomes a reality, coral reefs will be gone in 30 to 50 years. Elevated sea temperatures represent one of the main causes of a rise in mass coral bleaching episodes. The increased temperatures are capable of killing corals and their ecosystems, and you might have already guessed what we humans can do to prevent the disaster.
Mitigating climate change is a ‘must’
The researchers involved in the new study confirmed that saving coral reefs is crucial, and we can do it by mitigating climate change. They added that hundreds of millions of people are relying on coral reefs for protection against coastal damage due to waves.
Richmond said, while cited by Hawaii News Now:
As we know historically over geologic time we’ve had warming periods before over centuries millennia,
What we are seeing is changes over years at a time and the fear we put out in our paper says coral don’t have an opportunity to adapt under those quick time frames of increasing stressors.
But how can coral extinction be prevented? The solution is pretty simple, according to the new study: moving away from greenhouse gas-emitting and petroleum-based fuels, which are considered the main contributors to climate change.
A quarter of all the marine species live and rely on coral reefs, and despite a common bias, corals are animals, not plants.