You Don't Want to Imagine an Ocean without Coral Reefs—but You Might Have to
An Environmental Article from

FROM Vijay Prashad, Independent Media Institute
December 2020

Scientists call the coral reefs the “rainforests of the sea,” because coral reefs—like rainforests—are highly diverse ecosystems; their destruction would lead to the extinction of a large number of species.

coral reef

With a recent report titled “Projections of Future Coral Bleaching Conditions,” published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in November, Leticia Carvalho—head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch of UNEP—said on December 21 that coral reefs are the “canary in the coalmine for climate’s impact on oceans.”

 The image of the canary in the coal mine is used over and over again to refer to many aspects of the climate catastrophe: reflecting on his studies of glacier decline in Greenland, glaciologist Ian Howat said that “Greenland is going to be the canary in the coal mine,” while an evolutionary biologist in Australia, Dr. Janet Gardner said that “Birds really are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’” because their changes in body weight reflect sensitive assessments of changing weather patterns.

Each of these scientists, looking at the specific thing they study—glaciers, bird weight, coral reefs—is right about their particular insight as well as about the fact that what they are seeing is deeply worrying....



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