The world’s coral reefs “will be gone by the end of the century,” due to human activity scientist Peter Sale a leading researcher at United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, predicts in a new book released today.
The book, titled Our Dying Planet, argues that a combination of climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution and coastal development will lead to the total elimination of coral reefs as we know them today within the next 30 - 40 years.
"We're creating a situation where the organisms that make coral reefs are becoming so compromised by what we're doing that many of them are going to be extinct, and the others are going to be very, very rare," Sale says. "Because of that, they aren't going to be able to do the construction which leads to the phenomenon we call a reef. We've wiped out a lot of species over the years. This will be the first time we've actually eliminated an entire ecosystem."
Aside from containing nearly a quarter of the world’s marine life, the coral reefs ecosystems provide immense environmental, medical, and economic benefits. Coral reefs support lucrative fishing and tourist resources and protect vulnerable coastlines and low-lying islands from weather extremes. Coral Reefs have also been widely used in modern medicine and play a vital role in the development of new cancer treatments.