The world is experiencing its third mass coral bleaching event. Due to elevated temperatures at tropical locations over the whole planet, large populations of corals are starting to turn white. This is bad, as bleaching can lead to large-scale decreases in coral health and ultimately their death.
It's one thing to lament the continuing loss of the world's coral reefs due to rising ocean temperatures and acidity -- one study says they shrank from 240,000 square miles in 1997 to 108,000 in 2011 -- but it's quite another thing to put an actual price tag on that loss.
Life is resilient. Evolution provides a lot of tools for adaptation. But organisms can only change so much, so fast. The fossil record provides thousands of examples of organisms that could not adapt to abruptly changing conditions and became extinct.
During a recent presentation about Hokule'a's worldwide voyage, Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson remarked that if you want to save the Earth, save the ocean. "Out of four breaths you take," he said, "three come from the ocean."