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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coral reefs face extinction within 50 years: experts

"Climate change threatens to snuff out the world's coral reefs within the next half-century, a group of scientists led by David Attenborough warned on Monday.

Several prominent scientists and marine experts gathered at the Royal Society in London, England, to discuss the future of the world's coral reefs. After the meeting, they called on world leaders to make greater cuts in carbon emissions.

"A coral reef is the canary in the cage as far as the oceans are concerned," said Attenborough, speaking after the meeting.

"They are the places where the damage is most easily and quickly seen. It is more difficult for us to see what is happening in, for example, the deep ocean or the central expanses of ocean," the renowned British naturalist and broadcaster said.

The reefs provide important fish habitat and protect coastal areas from flooding. They support a vast array of marine ecosystems, which humans in turn depend on for sustenance — be it for food or the economic benefits yielded by tourism.

The scientists at the meeting warned that if carbon emissions continue to grow at current rates, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could reach 450 parts per million by 2050 — up from around 387 ppm today.

Acidity threatens reefs

Oceans absorb around a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide. This process creates carbonic acid, and seawater that acidifies creates an inhospitable environment for coral — existing coral can bleach and die, while new coral is unable to grow.

"When we get up to and above 450 ppm, that really means we're into the realms of catastrophic destruction of coral reefs and we'll be moving into a planetary-wide global extinction," said Alex Rogers, one of the scientists in attendance. He said carbon dioxide levels below 350 ppm were necessary to ensure healthy reefs.

"The only way to get to 350 ppm or below is not only to have major cuts in CO2 emissions but also to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere through measures such as geo-engineering," said Rogers, who is the scientific director of the International Program on the State of the Ocean.

Rogers said the vulnerability of the corals should spur decisive action by world leaders when they meet in Copenhagen at the end of the year to strike a climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"Essentially coral reefs are on death row and Copenhagen is one of the last opportunities for a reprieve," said Rogers. "Because if we carry on business as usual collapse is inevitable, whereas if we decide to do something about it we can make a difference to the current trajectory."


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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.