In recent weeks, there has been a surge of articles that announced that The Great Barrier Reef has succumb to all of the negative effects associated with global warming and finally died. This isn’t the case fortunately but that doesn’t mean that we can casually sigh in relief; unfortunately. The reef, a major contributor to the Australian tourism sector, is still in danger.
Large portions of the reef has been lost thanks to a phenomena known as bleaching. In this process, the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae is disrupted when algae start to photosynthesize too much resulting in the coral rejecting the algae. The relationship is ruined; the algae are no longer protected by the coral and the corals growth is inhibited as the algae is no longer there to provide nutrients for the coral to grow. This can occur due to climate conditions like El Niño but the disruption only occurs for a short time. The increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane is causing so much damage to the environment that scientists have been warning of a threshold of no return; a state of irreversible damage.
The greenhouse effect is resulting in an increase in average global temperatures at a rate that is abnormal. The Earth has gone through era’s of heating and cooling resulting in ice ages but the rate at which the temperature is changing is too great; it doesn’t follow the natural trend. Scientists from around the world have conducted studies and all come to the same conclusion; the unnatural climb in global average temperatures is due to the pollution associated with human development. This heating process occurs because carbon dioxide and other gases, unlike other atmospheric gases, holds on to more heat. As the concentration of carbon dioxide increase in our atmosphere, the amount of heat that can be trapped also increases. Not only that but approximately one-quarter of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean making it more acidic; further adding to the damaged sustained by the coral reef.
Currently, there are many government bodies and organisations that aim to educate and help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases but some are saying that more needs to be done. There are currently new, innovative techniques that aims at reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is currently in the atmosphere. Just recently, scientists from Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were able to convert carbon dioxide into ethanol that could be used as a fuel source. Scientists have also started converting the gas into stone for the permanent storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
If anything, the proclamation of The Great Barrier Reef’s death has draw the eyes of may to the issue. Just not to the safety of The Great Barrier Reef but all ocean life and the associated trickle down that will negatively affect everyone. Hopefully, this results in a larger investment of time and money into the sustainability and protection of this natural wonder of the world.