Thursday, March 08, 2007

More on the inequity, climate change and coral reefs

The statistics provided in the Bioscience essay (pdf) were derived from geographic (GIS) analysis of global datasets on population, reef distribution, gross domestic product and greenhouse gas emissions.

The figures on the right give a broader picture of some of the results. The top figure (A) shows the total population living with a given distance from coral reefs. The population has been divided into the developed world, the developing world, and Arab countries + small islands (relatively wealthy countries not technically considered developed by the UN).

The second figure (B) is a frequency distribution of population and GDP for people living within 50 or 100 km of coral reefs (the distribution looks similar with a distance of 10-20 km). This is only a rough measure of wealth and of dependence on reef, but it helps demonstrate the basic thesis, that the majority of people living in close proximity of coral reefs are in developing countries. As we elaborate in the paper, people who are responsible for only a tiny fraction of the world's greenhouse gas emissions stand to suffer the most if climate change results in long-term degradation of coral reef ecosystems.

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