With climate change threatening the world's coral reefs, the future of these underwater marvels remains uncertain. According to a new report, one region's reefs are particularly vulnerable.
The Coral Triangle, which includes an area from central Southeast Asia to the edge of the western Pacific, is threatened at a rate far greater than the global average, according to "Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle" from the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Local activities like "overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development, and land-based pollution" threaten 85 percent of the region's reefs, explained a WRI press release. The group claims that due to ocean acidification and warming, the number will rise to 100 percent by 2030 if "actions are not taken to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions."
At the recent International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia, 2,600 scientists signed a petition calling for international action to preserve global coral reefs, reported the BBC. Noting that 25 to 30 percent of the world's reefs are already "severely degraded," the statement asserts that "climate-related stressors [represent] an unprecedented challenge for the future of coral reefs and to the services they provide to people."
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told the Associated Press this week that ocean acidification is climate change's "equally evil twin." She added, "We've got sort of the perfect storm of stressors from multiple places really hammering reefs around the world."
Ocean acidification is a process that results from oceans' absorption of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, ocean acidity has risen by 30 percent in the past 250 years.