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Is it already too late for coral?

31 May 2005
It may already be too late to stop rapid climate change. The results will be terrible for coral reefs and other life systems.

So argues Thomas Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance today on openDemocracy.

One of Goreau's central concerns is that models of the world's climate tend to greatly underestimate positive feedbacks - that is, effects that amplify themselves or other phenomena over time, like a microphone picking up noise from a speaker.

Is Tom Goreau making too extreme a case? openDemocracy welcomes a careful, evidence based response.

If he's right a more aggressive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be needed than the one reported to be on the table for the G8.

And even if the international community does agree to cut emissions, increased spending on ways to counteract the effects of changes already underway is likely to necessary.

Tom Goreau suggests "Biorock" for coral reefs. A loose analogy could be drawn with actions needed to protect another massive ecosystem, the Siberian forests (continent wide rather than ocean wide).

Forest fires in Siberia reportedly increased tenfold in the last 20 years and could again rage out of control this summer, according to Tim Radford in the 31 May Guardian. But in both cases - reefs and forests - the paths to wiser management and even (should climate change permit) restoration and not totally hidden, however hard they may be. (read Goreau's full article here)

Caspar Henderson

[PS. I declare a non-financial interest in the work of Tom Goreau and colleagues, having occasionally reported on it over the last four years or so. See here, here and here]

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