Climate Change and Our Oceans

 

Sometimes we stare into space with wonder and think of how small we seem compared to the many stars, planets and galaxies. According to Forbes, in 2016, the budget for NASA was USD $19.3 billion. A large amount of money is contributed towards space exploration every year, yet we have this almost alien world at the tip of our fingers. The ocean is a vast place filled with many beautiful animals and structures, but not many people are able to discover and experience the beauties; and may not be able to if temperatures continue to increase.

When we think of climate change, we often think about the atmosphere and the air; the warming of the atmosphere. An increase in one or two degrees centigrade does indeed affect the air around us, but not as strongly as it affects other parts of Earth. However, an increase in one or two degrees centigrade plays a large role in the bleaching of coral in coral reefs all around the world.

In the last three years, we have lost 50% of coral in our oceans. Many people have observed coral turning white (coral bleaching). If one observes coral that is white, they are essentially seeing the bare skeleton of the coral. The coral is still alive, but is not allowing anything to grow on it. Coral bleaching is directly attributed to climate change on Earth. The driving force behind the mass bleaching of coral reefs is global climate change caused by emitting carbon into the air.

Coral reefs, such as the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia are a fundamental part of a large ecosystem in the ocean. Coral reefs provide a home for many sea creatures and are a key element of preserving ocean life. Fish such as clownfish have a developed a symbiotic relationship with sea anemone. If the anemone disappears, the clownfish will eventually disappear as well. This is the same case with coral, and the animals that depend on it.

Coral reefs play a large role in our everyday lives. Many cultures and communities rely on coral reefs for food fishing. Food fishing helps the economy while also helping preserve community life. With the technological advancements of 21st century, pharmacists are able to develop drugs that use elements of coral. Secosteroids, an enzyme used by corals to protect themselves from disease, is used to treat inflammatory disorders, such as asthma.

Coral reefs are breathtaking structures teeming with life. They provide protection for many species of sea creatures while also protecting our coasts from waves, storms, and even erosion. Coral reefs hold great potential for development of medicine that could help aid and possibly cure diseases. But without coral reefs, none of this is possible.

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