We know a lot about the impacts of climate change. The news is always speaking of the plastic on beaches, deforestation in jungles, and glaciers that are quickly melting.
All of this is on land, though. It’s easily visible to us and therefore easy to be concerned about.
But while we’re trying to tackle issues on the surface, there’s a much larger problem that’s gone relatively ignored: what’s under the seas.
Corals are integral to life. They’re living organisms that support plenty of fish. They’re essential to the living underseas communities. Without corals, a lot of the species living in and around them will either move or die off.
This is sad enough as is. There is such a wide diversity of species that make a home in these creatures. Killing off corals is destroying entire habitats.
It doesn’t stop there. Plenty of human communities are reliant on fishing in these coral-filled areas. Without that food source, these people will have to find other ways to feed themselves and their families. As you probably learned in biology, we’re all connected, so if one thing dies or goes extinct, it can lead to a chain reaction of other negative consequences.
Corals may not be visible to us, but they can impact us more than we even know.
They currently hold nearly 30 percent of the entire ocean’s biodiversity. It’s impossible to fathom just how many different species call corals their home. Beyond that, they’re viewed as carbon sinks meaning they actually are working against global warming and climate change. Even more, nearly 1 in 15 people are reliant on coral reefs to live, which is further proof of just how necessary they are.
The biggest problem corals face right now isn’t just climate change – it’s being noticed.
We don’t talk about them enough. They’re really not easily accessible to most of us, and so most people just don’t seem to care. They continue with their lives oblivious to what’s happening underneath them.
Fortunately, there are some people trying to help. If you check out the documentary, “Chasing Coral”, on Netflix, you can see just how much some people care. One of the people behind this movie even created a company called The Ocean Agency, and you can check out their website here.
The whole purpose of the Netflix film was to find a way to film coral bleaching. Bleaching is a process that occurs when the corals starve to death due to the change in ocean temperature. They die and become white skeletons of what they once were. By filming it, they hoped to show the world just what was happening underwater.
These creatures are so important to our environment, but because people can’t see them, nobody seems to care about them.
They’re an important reminder of climate change and how it is already impacting us. The oceans take in a ton of the heat that’s trapped in our atmosphere. This leads to the ocean temperature rising. Corals, which are sensitive to this temperature shift, are unable to survive in such an environment.
What can you do about it?
First, spread word. Tell your friends, family, and anyone else you know. Make them see why it’s so important we start doing something about climate change. Learn more about corals and volunteer with organizations trying to raise awareness.
Avoid using pesticides and fertilizers since they can end up in the ocean. Do your best to reduce your personal pollution impact by recycling appropriately. Push for legislators who are willing to enact laws to fight back against climate change. Let your voice be heard and get involved in the issue. It may soon be too late.
We need to start acting now. Since 2016, half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef have died. If that doesn’t show how urgent this issue is, I don’t know what does.
It’s hard to bring the entire world together to find solutions to world issues. Every country has their own problems to solve and every person has their struggles. But this struggle goes beyond just ourselves or our country. This could make or break humanity.
We’ve got to do something – all of us. We must insist on change enough so that governments worldwide will listen. Otherwise, there’ll come a day when there’s nothing left to fight for.
Also published on Medium.