We’re currently facing the worst bleaching of coral reefs ever known in history, but what would happen if all the coral reefs died off? We’ve already lost 50% of the world’s coral, and we’re at risk of losing even more. If the world lost all its coral reefs, the results would be dire. Following is a transcript of the video.
What would happen if all the coral reefs died off?
Coral reefs are filled with colourful ocean life. But they’re in danger of dying off.
The planet has already lost 50% of its coral in the last 30 years. If the rest go, the consequences would be dire.
Sea life has the most to lose. Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor. But, they provide an essential ecosystem for a quarter of all marine life.
One of these creatures – a type of sea slug – is actually an important ingredient in certain cancer-fighting compounds.
In fact, some estimates predict we are 300 to 400 times more likely to find new drugs from coral reef ecosystems than land-based ones. But that’s only if they survive the next century.
In addition to breakthrough medicines, over half a billion people depend on these reefs for food and work.
Almost 1/5th of the world’s protein comes from seafood, with people eating on average almost 50 lbs per year.
The US fishing industry supports 1.5 million jobs alone, nearly a quarter of what the US meat and poultry industry employs.
Without reefs, billions of sea life species would suffer, millions of people would lose their most significant food source, and economies would take a major hit.
But it’s not just about the jobs.
Coral reefs attract tourists to more than 100 countries and territories worldwide. These tourists spend billions of dollars diving into the underwater landscapes.
Without these attractions, economists estimate that coastal-tourism would drop more than 9%, which is equivalent to about $US36 billion.
These reefs also provide protection to the tourist-reliant coastlines. They act as natural barriers, cancelling out 97% of a wave’s strength and protecting more than 200 million people. Building seawalls for the same protection costs $US2.5 million per mile.
But today humans are putting these all at risk. Rising ocean temps and pollution stress the coral, which can kill entire coral ecosystems within just a few months.
Half of the US Caribbean coral died in one massive bleaching event back in 2005.
If we do nothing to cool the oceans, the planet’s remaining coral could all be wiped out.