Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Coral Cascade Effect

SHOOT: You've heard of the 'Tipping Points' caused by climate change. The extinction of coral is another you can add to that list. 50% of Carribean corals have already disappeared and scientists warn that all corals could be gone within the next 100 years.
clipped from
In this undated photo provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a healthy coral reef in St. Croix, US Virgin Island

At least 19 percent of the world's coral reefs are already gone, including some 50 percent of those in the Caribbean. An additional 15 percent could be dead within 20 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Old Dominion University professor Kent Carpenter, director of a worldwide census of marine species, warned that if global warming continues unchecked, all corals could be extinct within 100 years.

If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue.

"Whole nations will be threatened in terms of their existence," said Carl Gustaf Lundin of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for extinction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom-dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral.

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