Over the weekend, Outside Magazine wrote an article stating the Great Barrier Reef was dead, causing a ton of backlash on the Internet and making the reef a trending topic on social media.
According to CNN, the media backlash has caused scientists to fear the over-exaggeration will lead readers to believe the reef is past recovery, and people will stop trying to protect it.
Eric Bollinger, a biology professor, said the Great Barrier Reef is not dead, but indeed in danger, along with all the other reefs around the world.
“Virtually all of the direct factors (of the bleaching of coral reefs) tie into global climate change,” Bollinger said.
Bollinger then said the temperature increase makes the corals release their zooxanthellae, a symbiotic algae that creates sugar for the coral, which results in the bleaching of the coral reef.
The bleaching of coral reefs pose many problems to humanity since there are many benefits coral reefs can provide. According to National Ocean Service, compounds in coral reefs are used in medicines to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and many other diseases.
Australia, in hopes of protecting the Great Barrier Reef, has implemented The Reef 2050 Plan in efforts to help protect the reef from bleaching until the year 2050.
“It’s better than not doing anything, but we have a global problem,” Bollinger said. “Perhaps the only way to create a long-term solution is to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.”
Bollinger also said plans such as the Paris Agreement are more likely to have a bigger impact on reefs than anything implemented locally. Bollinger is referring to the agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to decrease global warming.
The United States signed this agreement April 22, and plans to take action Nov. 4, 2016.
“If we don’t do something about global climate change, there’s a very good chance coral reefs will disappear by the middle part of the century,” Bollinger said. “The best way for students to save species in danger, such as the Great Barrier Reef, is to vote with a conscience.”
Marisa Foglia can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]