Climate Change is Killing the Great Barrier Reef

Published by DonDavidson on

The Great Barrier Reef along Australia’s northeastern coastline is the largest coral reef in the world at 133,000 square miles. It is home to many species of fish and other marine life. But the warming oceans are slowly killing it.

Coral reefs are made up of living animals called coral. Like other animals, they need oxygen to survive. They get this oxygen from algae—single-celled plants—that live in the corals in a symbiotic relationship. The corals provide the algae with shelter and nutrients, and the algae provide the corals with oxygen and carbohydrates produced through photosynthesis. The algae also give coral reefs their rainbow-like array of colors.

Corals generally live in tropical or semi-tropical climates because most cannot tolerate water below about 64º Fahrenheit (18º C). But most don’t deal well with water that gets too warm either. When that happens, the corals get stressed and expel their friendly algae. As a result, the coral reef turns white, which is called “bleaching.” Bleaching weakens the coral since it temporarily deprives them of the algae they need to survive. Persistent bleaching will eventually kill the coral through either disease or starvation.

In 2016 and 2017, warming ocean water caused severe but isolated bleaching that killed as much as half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef. This year, 2020, bleaching was not as severe, but was much more widespread.

So who cares if the Great Barrier Reef dies? Well, Australia certainly does. The Reef supports tens of thousands of jobs and contributes more than $5.6 billion to Australia’s economy. But the Great Barrier Reef is not alone. Scientists tell us that coral bleaching has increased dramatically worldwide in the past forty years. As a result, coral reefs are dying all over the world as the oceans heat up because of human-caused climate change.[1] These coral reefs help prevent coastal erosion, provide protection from storm surge, and contribute at least $30 billion to the world economy.

For more on climate change and how it may be fulfilling biblical prophecy, see:

For more on climate change’s impact on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, see:

For more on coral reefs and climate change generally, see:

[1] Climate change also damages coral reefs by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Oceans absorb this CO2, causing the ocean water to become more acidic. And that more acidic environment damages coral reefs.


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