Thursday, July 16, 2009

'Little boy' causes coral apocalypse

Jonathan Faull in the Minivan News (Maldives): The global scientific community is in broad agreement that weather patterns developing in the Eastern Pacific spell “El Nino” for the coming year. Concurrently a meeting of prominent scientists in London has warned that the ongoing effects of carbon emissions, in conjunction with more frequent El Nino weather cycles, could wipe functional reef ecosystems from the face of the earth in the next 20 to 40 years.

The confluence of global warming and El Nino was highlighted this week by Environment Minister Aslam Mohamed, during a speech to a rock concert in Cornwall, England and in a subsequent interview with The Guardian newspaper. "[Rising sea-levels and coral bleaching are] like a terminal disease for us," he told the Guardian. "It's in our people's minds all the time, but they also have to get on with their day-to-day lives. They also have to worry about reliable power, fresh water and sewage."

El Nino (meaning ‘little boy’ in Spanish) is not a new visitor to the Maldives. The phenomenon damaged more than 95 per cent of the Maldives’ reefs, with widespread “bleaching” of corals following three months of unusually high seawater temperatures between March and June 1998. Thomas le Berre, managing director of environmental consultancy Seamarc Pvt, Ltd, said that a full-blown El Nino system “would be a disaster” for coral systems in the Maldives.

Former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Charlie Veron, meanwhile has predicted that if nothing is done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions “coral reefs [will be] doomed to extinction” by 2060. “I have the backing of every coral reef scientist, every research organisation. I’ve spoken to them all. This is critical. This is reality,” he said. Veron said that such an eventuality would entail “the world’s first global ecosystem collapse”….

Raa Dhuvaafaru, as people moved into their new homes after the 2004 Tsunami, a beautful shot by Ibrahim Fawaz, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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