Photo via wildxplorer via Flickr CC
Coral reefs are worth about $100 billion annually thanks to everything from tourism to fishing. However, current climate targets are still not good enough to save them from dying off. If the fact that they're a cornerstone for healthy ocean life is not incentive enough to save them, then is the loss of the source for this incredible annual revenue be enough to get policy makers to save coral reefs with appropriate climate targets? The BBC reports that a UN-backed project has concluded that the current targets for climate change are not enough to be able to remove the risk for catastrophic loss of coral reefs, and that policy makers need to consider the money involved when they're looking at appropriate targets.
Looking ahead to December's UN climate conference in Copenhagen, study leader Pavan Sukhdev said it was vital that policymakers realised that safeguarding the natural world was a cost-effective way of protecting societies against the impacts of rising greenhouse gas levels.
We know that we're currently at 387 ppm for CO2 in the atmosphere, and we know that it's going up roughly 2ppm annually. The current levels are enough to cause serious damage to reefs, and coupling that with unsustainable fishing practices and pollutants entering the ocean from every direction, corals are losing their likelihood to survive any further rise in carbon emissions. Ocean acidification is just too much of an uphill battle for corals to conquer.
We constantly push the number 350ppm as a target to get back to, despite that this is still higher than historic levels. Anything more than this, and the gun is aimed at corals, which will domino into the rest of the oceans and planet. And human society... In Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle, a loss of reef life represents a loss of 80% of the food supply. Globally, 500 million people depend on reefs for their livelihood.
If not to save 25% of ocean life, will saving the futures of half a billion people help leaders set targets that will keep corals alive?