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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid