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Great Reef Dead!
New York, NY -
According to a still unpublished report entitled "Implications of Climate Change for Australia's Great Barrier Reef" presented to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Control (IPCC), Australia's Great Barrier Reef - the largest sealife preserve in the world - will be "mostly devoid of life in the next 20 to 50 years" if the temperature in the oceans around Australia continues to rise at its present rate. Although expurgated excerpts of the study will be published in the journal Nature later this month, we were given a copy of the uncensored report by a source inside the IPCC who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
The Great Barrier Reef covers more than 345,000 square kilometers off Australia's northeast coast. It consists of nearly 3000 interlinked reefs, about 900 islands, and over 1500 species of fish. Like all the other wildlife preserves around the globe, this delicate underwater habitat faces many environmental threats, including chemical runoff from farms, pollution from passing ships, over fishing, and invasion by foreign species. Now the rising ocean temperatures are ringing its final death knoll.
Warmer sea water causes the coral to suffer thermal stress which eventually causes it to bleach and die. That is because the warmer water forces out the symbiotic algae that give the coral its vibrant colors, and when the algae depart, the coral starves to death. This will occur if the ocean temperature increases by just 1 degree Celsius, and the temperature of the seas around the barrier reef is expected to rise 2 to 6 degrees Celcius over the next century.
"There is nothing to suggest that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise", says the report. If the coral dies, of course, all the other organisms that rely on the coral for food and shelter will soon become rare and even face extinction.
According to the report, there is "absolutely no prospect of avoiding this eventuality" because the buildup of greenhouse gases that is already warming the seas will take decades to reverse. "Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs by the middle of the century under even the most favorable assumptions," the report concludes. "Under the worst conditions", the report predicts, "the Great Barrier Reef will be totally devoid of life in about two decades".
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