Loading... Please wait...

Blog

Cutting Down on CO2 Emissions will bring the Great Barrier Reef Back to Life

Posted

The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland Australia, is the world’s largest coral reef system containing over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 individual islands stretching an impressive 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers). The reef covers an approximate 133,000 square miles (344,400 square kilometers), and is so massive it can be seen from space. By comparison, the Apo Reef, located in the Philippines, only consists of 13 square miles (34 square kilometers).

The reef has been labeled as one of the seven best natural wonders of the world. According to the Australian government, the reef attracts roughly 2 million tourists each and every year, making it the largest contributor to the Australian economy generating over $4 billion annually.

Even though the reef is admired by millions of people each year, it’s not the marvel it once used to be. According to a 2012 study conducted by The Australian Institute of Marine Science, as of 2012 the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half of its coral coverage since 1985. This loss is due to many contributing factors, such as hurricanes, an invasive coral eating starfish species, but most importantly by global warming.

Corals generally thrive in warmer waters, like those present off the coast of Queensland, however any increase in heat beyond those normal temperatures can be harmful to the coral. An increase of just two or three degrees Fahrenheit can kill coral completely. By conservative calculations, the average ocean temperature has raised 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.

This increase in temperature causes the coral to expel an algae living in their tissue, known as zooxanthellae, out into the water. This process counteractively strips the coral of its major food source, causing it to turn pale and in some extreme cases turn completely white. While in this “bleached” state coral is at its highest chance of death.

According to studies conducted by Terry P. Hughes, the director of The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia, only 9 percent of the reef has avoided becoming bleached since 1998. Recently the reef has gone through another mass bleaching.

In an article published in The Journal Nature, Hughes said, “We didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years. In the north, I saw hundreds of reefs – literally two-thirds of the reefs were dying and are now dead.” Hughes also said regarding climate change, “Climate change is not a future threat on the Great Barrier Reef, it’s been happening for 18 years.”

Today, the Australian government and The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park actively protect 33 percent of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s possible for coral to bounce back and come back to life after the bleaching process. Once waters cool down, coral are able to re-acquire the algae they need to survive. In order for the water temperature to decrease or at least stop rising, C02 emissions need to be cut down significantly.

Making greener choices in our everyday lives can help.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m glad I work for an environmentally cautious company. Emerald Brand uses bagasse, a by-product of sugarcane, to manufacture environmentally safe disposable products. This material was previously burned or left to decompose, emitting pollution into the air like CO2 and methane, and thus contributing to the global warming problem. Tree-Free™ products also reduce deforestation. Since trees absorb CO2 to create oxygen, we need trees to reverse the effects of global warming.

View Comments


Habitats are Homes Too

I have always had an innate compassion for animals. I would have grown up to be a veterinarian if the job didn’t include some of the horrors it entails. It’s not that I didn’t understand the “Circle of Life,” I just didn’t want to become numb to it if I lived it every day. Animals color our world. They [...]

Read More »

The Most Wonderful Time of an Online Shopper's Year

It’s that time of the year again! Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I visit dozens of stores and e-commerce sites to get holiday gifts for my friends, family, loved ones, and even a little something for myself! However the more busy my life gets, the more I gravitate towards online shopping. In my opinion, why travel to a [...]

Read More »

How Living Sustainably Made Me Happier

Everyone looks for ways to make positive changes to live a happier and healthier life. A positive change that I made to increase my happiness and greatly benefit the environment is choosing to live a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainable living consists of moderating natural resource usage to reduce the strain put on the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions and waste have two [...]

Read More »

A Journey on the Ground

The MissionMy journey started off as a question: How can I really understand the impact we are having on our planet?I am by no means a scientist that can spend many hours a day breaking down the problems that exist in our world of consumption, so I decided to take a trip to see things for myself at ground level. [...]

Read More »

Solar Energy: Providing a Bright Future

Solar Energy is currently one of the leading forms of alternative energy. Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun that is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaic cells, solar thermal energy, solar architecture and artificial photosynthesis. Solar energy is most commonly harnessed through solar panels on the roofs of houses and [...]

Read More »

My Family's Traditions: How I Became an Environmentally Conscious Adult

When I was growing up, I always thought my family’s traditions were the same as everyone else’s. However, as I got older I came to the realization that my family’s traditions and ways of life were different from other people’s families. I am very fortunate to have parents who were born and raised in Italy. Their Italian traditions have [...]

Read More »

Trees: Our Biggest Ally In Combating Climate Change

Whether people want to believe in climate change or not, there is no denying the environment has changed noticeably over the last 100 years. The average temperature of the earth has risen 1.53 °F since 1880. The output of carbon and waste product has grown exponentially since then. With more vehicles on the roads and [...]

Read More »

Bigger and Blander: Grocery Shopping in America vs. Spain

Growing up in Long Island, New York I never thought twice about routine tasks like going to the grocery store. I assumed everyone around the world bought their groceries the way my family and I did. We would go to a big-name brand supermarket (Walbaums, King Kullen, Pathmark, etc.) and buy enough food to last [...]

Read More »

Growing Up in the 70's

Growing up in the 70's was definitely a lot of fun. We lived in a Bronx neighborhood where we did not need much to have fun and enjoy life. All of my activities revolved around the schoolyard where my friends and I played basketball, stickball, softball, handball and roller hockey. I had hundreds of friends and [...]

Read More »