A climate change scientist has warned that the world only has 10 years to reduce carbon emissions to save the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. According to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, CO2 emissions from human activities are acidifying the oceans, posing a serious threat to marine ecosystems which are productive and diverse. Increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere indicate that the world’s largest reef system will disappear within the next 10 years if adequate measures are not introduced immediately.
Speaking at the Greenhouse 2011 conference in Cairns, the expert said coral species are finding it difficult to cope with warmer ocean temperatures. In order to stay cool, corals would need to migrate southwards at a rate of 15 kilometres per year. He explained: “Individual coral larvae can travel great distances, but the entire reef system can’t. The uncomfortable conclusion is that we might lose the reef.” Adding to this, Lesley Hughes at Macquarie University in Sydney said “there is virtually no evidence” that the coral reefs can tackle global warming.