Here are the Stakes

Rolling Stone pulled no punches in laying out the stakes of global climate change in this excellent article. It’s terrifying, you should read it, then probably go hold someone you love for a while. (People in my life who I hold in this category, I’m missing you hard right now.) Then you should get your ass in gear about local actions, national policy, and your own lifestyle.

This year I’ll be flying a lot, and it doesn’t sit well with me. Hell, even the gas to get to and from a dive site here on Koh Tao is as black on my mind as it is on the water. I am proud to have this fellowship but I’m not entitled to carbon emissions just because I can afford it – I’m re-evaluating travel options but otherwise I’m going to have to earn my carbon-keep.

Sorry to be the world’s biggest downer today but this is the world we live in.

Read this: The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here | Rolling Stone, then look at this.

Here are the Stats:

  • Changes already observed over the last century:
    • Approximately 25-30% of the world’s coral reefs are already severely degraded by local impacts from land and by over-harvesting.
    • The surface of the world’s oceans has warmed by 0.7 °C, resulting in unprecedented coral bleaching and mortality events.
    • The acidity of the ocean’s surface has increased due to increased atmospheric CO2.
    • Sea-level has risen on average by 18cm.
  • By the end of this century:
    • CO2 emissions at the current rate will warm sea surface temperatures by at least 2-3 °C, raise sea-level by as much as 1.7 meters, reduce ocean pH from 8.1 to less than 7.9, and increase storm frequency and/or intensity.
    • This combined change in temperature and ocean chemistry has not occurred since the last reef crisis 55 million years ago.
  • Other stresses faced by corals and reefs:
    • Coral reef death also occurs because of a set of local problems including excess sedimentation, pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing.
    • These problems reduce coral growth and vitality, making it more difficult for corals to survive climate changes.
  • Future impacts on coral reefs:
    • Most corals will face water temperatures above their current tolerance.
    • Most reefs will experience higher acidification, impairing calcification of corals and reef growth
    • Rising sea levels will be accompanied by disruption of human communities, increased sedimentation impacts and increased levels of wave damage.
    • Together, this combination of climate-related stressors represents an unprecedented challenge for the future of coral reefs and to the services they provide to people.

For me, working with coral conservationists is a way to simultaneously work on the symptoms and root causes of declining coral health. Researchers, activists, and conservationists are often thinking about global climate change when they’re thinking about preserving current genetic stocks, for example. These are people who want feel physically active in fighting climate change.

This stuff is scary. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.



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