I don’t want to discourage you, but the news is not good (for a change). Coral reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are not doing well at all, according to a new study by the United Nations. If global warming is not brought under control quickly, they will simply scream in heat stress. If the problem is not fixed quickly, all coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050. And if you think to yourself “bouarf, it’s a shame, but it won’t stop me from living, huh”. Well, think again, actually. The consequences of such a loss could be disastrous, even for humans.
1. A lot of marine animals will be left without habitat
Coral reefs are often called “the rain forests of the oceans”. As a tropical forest that is home to an astronomical amount of fauna and flora, coral reefs, although they represent only 1% of the ocean floor, are home to more than a million species, including a quarter of the world’s fish. Without a barrier, the most robust will migrate to another habitat, the rest will die.
2. Some land areas will disappear
Reefs, however deep, protect coastlines from erosion by tropical storms and prevent (or at least reduce) the risk of sea level rise. Without a coral reef, and therefore coastal protection, soil erosion will render many areas uninhabitable.
3. The chances of dying in a natural disaster will increase
Coral reefs not only protect against erosion: they also act as a barrier against natural disasters such as storms or tsunamis. During a cyclone, for example, the barrier absorbs 70 to 90% of the wave energy. In Indonesia, during the tsunami that hit the island in 2018, it was the areas not protected by a reef that were degraded.
4. The economy related to tourism will collapse in many countries
More coral reefs necessarily rhyme with the total disappearance of tourism linked to these reefs. When we know that this type of activity benefits more than 100 countries, that it contributes more than 30% of the export earnings of more than 20 countries, and that it is, in many small islands, responsible for more than 90% of the new developments economical, yes… There is something to be a little scared about. (Font)
5. You will probably get a lot of food poisoning and may die from it.
A reef in poor condition can indeed give way to an outbreak of ciguatera, that is: poisoning from the consumption of diseased reef fish. Known colloquially as “the scratch” in the South Pacific, this disease is caused by a dinoflagellate (nothing to do with a whipping dinosaur) called Gambierdiscus toxicus. It is a toxic microalgae that grows directly on damaged reefs, which is eaten by herbivorous fish, which in turn is eaten by carnivorous fish, etc. The toxins from this algae are then passed up the food chain, eventually contaminating humans. At best, you will experience burning sensations on contact with cold water, muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, sweats, and chills or itchiness. In the worst case, your pulse will slow down, you will have heart problems and you will be able to pass. Voila, voila. It’s not to make you psycho, huh. I’m warning you, that’s it!
6. We will have to get used to salt water
Some low-lying islands are already facing this problem: Kiribati, 33 coral atolls located in the Pacific Ocean, are seeing their freshwater sources submerge in saltwater. Do you remember when we talked about a reef to prevent the rise of the waters? Clever.
7. We are all going to have to eat vegan
And there will be no point in insulting them further, they will have nothing to do with it. The disappearance of corals, especially when combined with overfishing, will lead to a shortage of fish and a shortage of local protein. Get ready to eat quinoa. It’s not so bad, the quinoa. It’s still better than bulgur. You’ll see…
8. The disappearance of the fish will also be an economic disaster
In addition to the fact that we will have to content ourselves with fruits and vegetables for the rest of our days, we must think that many fishermen will have to stop their activity. A disaster, above all, for the populations of the intertropical zone, which depend mainly on fishing in the coastal zone. These places depend on coral reefs, which are very rich in fish. Now, no reef… Bah… There won’t be much left in the nets.
9. Pharmacy shelves will appear emptier
We don’t always think about it, but coral reefs are a gold mine of pharmaceutical compounds. Among the latest discoveries: researchers at the University of Utah have identified eleutherobin (a substance with anticancer properties) in soft corals. If the reefs disappear, there will be two dramatic medical consequences: certain drugs will no longer be produced, and research, particularly in cancerology, will be undermined.
10. The third part of Nemo will be much sadder than the first two
Since this is not what Disney has made funniest, there… It will be frankly dep. The big dep, even.
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