We surf, snorkel, free dive, paddle and play in Mother Nature’s glorious ocean. But a fundamental part of the ocean’s ecosystem is at risk. The biggest story of our changing climate is hidden beneath the waves. Coral reef ecosystems support 25% of marine life in our ocean and they are at extreme risk of dying. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia experienced a devastating and unprecedented severe coral bleaching two years in a row the past two years, killing 29% of shallow water reefs. And it’s not just the majestic Great Barrier Reef – – coral reefs all over the world are being affected.
So what is going on?
There is a huge heat wave traveling all over the world. It’s like your body temperature changing – – a temperature increase of just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) may not seem like a lot in the air, but for marine life this is like living with a constant fever. And for the corals’, it’s catastrophic. When the corals are exposed to higher ocean temperatures, they bleach and die. What remains is the white skeleton.
So what can you do?
We live at a unique point in time where we can change history. It’s not too late for coral reefs – – they can recover if the ocean temperature returns to normal, but prolonged stress may cause the corals to eventually die. Every little action helps – – if we all chip in to reducing our carbon footprint we can help to reduce climate change and stop ocean temperatures from rising. Here’s a couple things you can do:
- Make sure your lighting is efficient. LED light bulbs generally use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, and they last longer.
- Replace old appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, and clothes dryers, with smarter models.
- Maximize fuel efficiency, no matter what model you drive: Keep tires inflated, avoid speeding, keep your trunk free of excess weight—and above all, avoid driving when you can walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit.
- Bring your own bags and buy in bulk when possible to reduce packaging.
- Reduce your consumption of bottled water and other packaged drinks.
- Check out more at National Geographic
- Watch Chasing Coral on Netflix and share this blog post and/or infographics with your friends + family!