New aerial data from Professor Hughes and other scientists released on Monday shows example after example of overheating and damage along the reef, a 1,500-mile natural wonder. The survey amounts to an updated X-ray for a dying patient, with the markers of illness being the telltale white of coral that has lost its color, visible from the air and in the water.
The mass bleaching indicates that corals are under intense stress from the waters around them, which have been growing increasingly hotter.
The world’s oceans, which absorb 93 percent of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases that humans send into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, are warming up 40 percent faster on average than scientists estimated six years ago.
Nature is under constant pressure from humanity. But when large-scale systems are failing before our eyes, you have to wonder what the trophic consequences will be.
I’m not sure if the rampant degradation of the natural world–particularly its icons, like the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon rainforest–will ever trigger a real shift in human culture and practice. I suppose, eventually. Now would be good, though.