Imagine- a huge portion of your favourite seafood disappearing from your platter; the bedrock for the next big medical discovery gone; more than 25% of an ecosystem, which has evolved through billions of years, extinct; nations and states dependant on tourism and fishery to fund their economy, reduced to poverty.
Well, that is exactly what the recent events of coral bleaching is going to cost us. While humanity deals with one loss inflicted upon itself after another, our planet is not doing too well either. Since September 2014, a major event of coral bleaching in the Pacific has been noticed and recorded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef watch programme. This can be the worst event of Coral bleaching and will clearly affect a lot of economies that are dependent upon it.
What is Coral Bleaching and why Should a Couch-surfing Internet Activist Care?
Coral bleaching is a process where due to growing Global warming and climate change, the algae which maintains a symbiotic relationship with the corals thus giving the corals such rich vibrant colours, begins to die out. The algae continues with its photosynthesis and the coral survives due to the food provided to it by the algae during this process. However, this symbiotic relationship can often be hindered due to increased temperatures and changed levels of salinity of the water and the atmosphere. Also, pollution from urban or agricultural development, disease and underwater sedimentation due to activities like dredging have been known to affect the corals globally.
The coral reefs are home to one of the largest ecosystems on our planet. The bleaching affects every organism dependent upon that ecosystem thus wiping them out in a few decades despite the fact that they have survived billions of years of evolution. One needs to realise the importance of prioritising climate change and global warming as factors that affect our lives vastly in the long run. While you may want to believe that an occurrence in the Pacific cannot affect your life, I would like to remind you that nature does not know political boundaries, class, race or privileges, when it strikes, its hits all and no amount of preparation can fully avert a disaster. I hope I do not need to explain how every ecosystem in the world is dependent on each other, and when one ecosystem falls it takes down a whole lot of systems along with it thus affecting the world economy. If we do not act now, if stricter global policies that cater to the environment and its urgent needs cannot be implemented now, it will get too late. It is time to get over our Environmental Education books and actually do something to reduce our carbon footprints.
What are the World Leaders Doing?
A resolution has been adopted at the U.N. Lima C.O.P. this year to make sure that every country submits a detailed plan to the U.N. for curbing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. This is what our world leaders are doing- detailing plans and reports for action, while our planet is dying, one ecosystem at a time. However, there are those amongst us who are more motivated than the rest. To quote the Foreign minister of the Marshall Islands (where the recent bleaching activities have been reported) Mr. Tony deBrum, “Ours is not a story of passive victimhood – we are not waiting for the “climate coconut” to fall on our heads – we are the active drivers of change.”
This is not the first time that coral bleaching has been observed. But this time, due to rising global temperature, we are at the brink of losing a major portion of our ecosystems. Maybe it’s not worth it, to let things slide and let the future take care of these issues. For all we know, there might not be a possible future where there is opportunity to take care of the planet like we need to, now. So it’s time to pay heed to the planet, united as a global society.