News / Asia

Scientists Warn of Reef Peril at Australian Summit

A clam is seen among the corals at the Great Barrier Reef in Great Keppel island, Australia, April 7, 2010.
A clam is seen among the corals at the Great Barrier Reef in Great Keppel island, Australia, April 7, 2010.
Phil Mercer
SYDNEY — A document signed by more than 2,500 scientists at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia said that climate change is a greater threat to coral reefs than pollution and overfishing. Marine scientists are also warning that the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia's Queensland state will degenerate if the oceans continue to acidify.
 
The repeated warning from delegates is that manmade climate change is posing a serious risk to coral expanses across the planet. Marine scientists say other factors, such as pollution and increased shipping, also present risks.
 
The head of the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, said Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is facing particular threats.
 
A diver inspects damage caused by a Chinese bulk coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, east of Great Keppel Island, April 13, 2010.A diver inspects damage caused by a Chinese bulk coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, east of Great Keppel Island, April 13, 2010.
x
A diver inspects damage caused by a Chinese bulk coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, east of Great Keppel Island, April 13, 2010.
A diver inspects damage caused by a Chinese bulk coal carrier that ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, east of Great Keppel Island, April 13, 2010.
“The Great Barrier Reef is a obviously spectacular place and thanks to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, it has been relatively well managed. It's really a model that has been emulated elsewhere," said Lubchenco. "Part of what makes a healthy reef is not only paying attention to activities on the water and under the water, but land, what's happening on the land, and how much sedimentation, how much pollution is washing into the reef and of course that's an ongoing concern for the Great Barrier Reef.”
 
Researchers warn that the Great Barrier Reef that stretches down Australia’s northeast coast will not be the spectacular underwater paradise it is now if the oceans continue to acidify.
 
Carbon emissions

Scientists believe that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are making the oceans more acidic.
 
Dr. Lubchenco said that without international action on climate change the future for the coral reefs around the world is uncertain.
 
“When oceans soak up carbon dioxide, it makes them more acidic and that is problematic for many plants and animals in the ocean, especially those that have shells or skeletons made of calcium carbonate," said Lubchenco. "Oysters, mussels, clams, or crabs, lobsters, and many of the microscopic plants, not to mention coral reefs, are all under threat from increasing ocean acidification.”
 
The conference in Cairns has also heard that more than 85 percent of coral reefs in the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and East Timor are threatened by the activities of local communities. The study by the World Resources Institute and the USAID Coral Triangle Support Partnership is calling for urgent action.

Too late?

The United Nations has also warned that the Great Barrier Reef is at risk, while some marine scientists said it may already be too late to save it due to rising levels of shipping, offshore gas and oil exploration and port expansion along the Queensland coast.
 
By 2020 it is estimated that 7,000 ships will travel across the reef every year, as the export of Australia’s natural resources intensifies.
 
The Australian government has said it was “committed to ensuring the best possible protection and management” of the reef, which is the world's largest coral reef system and is a multi-billion dollar tourist attraction.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid