Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The inequity of the global threat to coral reefs

In the March issue of the journal Bioscience, my colleague David Potere and I discuss the inequity of the threat climate change poses to the world’s coral reefs (the pdf is now available through my home page). A snippet:

“Coral reefs have been adopted as an iconic “flagship” ecosystem in the effort to encourage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s simply good marketing. Coral reefs are charismatic: Colorful underwater images of corals, sponges, and reef fish are bound to draw a strong emotional response from even the most hardened audience. Who among us would want to be blamed for killing Nemo?

With all this focus on the aesthetics of coral reefs, the potential human inequity of the threat posed by climate change is often ignored. The majority of the people who depend on coral reef ecosystems for shoreline protection, fisheries, and tourism revenue live in poor, developing countries that are responsible for only a tiny fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

The commentary is based on GIS analysis of population data, coral reef maps, greenhouse gas emissions data and economic data, and my experience doing research on climate change and coral bleaching. I’ll be posting some auxiliary data on Maribo in a few days.

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