Coral Reefs

Last night I watched a PBS News Hour special report on coral reefs.

The situation is worse than I thought.

Here are some excerpts:

“Half the size of Texas, spanning 1,400 miles, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet. It is rich in beauty and diversity, but it is dying, as the ocean waters steadily warm.”

“Since June of ’14, we have had continuous bleaching somewhere in the world. Globally, over 70 percent of the coral reefs around the globe have been exposed to the high temperatures that cause bleaching.”

“It is clear warming water is the culprit, and reducing our use of fossil fuels is the only solution.”

Seeing how the US is now debating whether to adhere to the Paris Agreement to reduce fossil fuels, this is terribly discouraging.

Video: YouTube, National Geographic

Another PBS report taught me that sunscreen damages coral reefs too.  The chemical ozybenzone, in particular.  So, if you are going to snorkel, scuba, or swim, think twice about wearing typical sunscreens. According to the report, “The U.S. National Park Service for South Florida, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa recommend using “reef friendly” sunscreen (those made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which are natural mineral ingredients) and wearing clothing and hats to protect the skin from the sun.” Certain tourist areas in Mexico have banned chemical sunscreens – not only because they harm the environment, but because damaged and bleached coral reefs can also hurt the tourist economy.  People want to see the beautiful colors and diverse wildlife – sadly, these may be very rare within the next 10-30 years.

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