Coral reefs are a living thing, and are the foundation for a variety of marine species. If you like crab, shrimp, oysters or clams, thank a coral reef. They are also a huge tourist attractions. This makes them important to humans.
While coral reefs make up just one percent of the ocean floor, they contain one-third of all sea life.
According to the CRTF, an estimated 70% of the world’s reefs have been threatened or destroyed by a variety of stressors, including shoreline development, polluted runoff from agriculture, physical damage, over-harvesting of fish, destructive fishing, diseases, and warmer seawater temperatures.
I sailed 2,500 miles across the central Pacific Ocean this summer, visiting islands we dream of as paradise, only to be hit hard with the realization that we are one of the last generations who will experience the Earth as we now know it.
Frightening, yes, but the tipping point that I look forward to is political — the point when we have the critical mass to elect a government that will act effectively. It has happened before, on racism. It is happening on same-sex marriage. When enough people understand the ethical issue of climate — that it is immoral to destroy the future — things will change.
For those who want to learn more about how to make a difference, there are several organizations working to protect our world’s reefs, including Reef Check.