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Loss of coral reefs caused by rising sea temperatures could cost $1tn globally

Ben Doherty and Christopher Knaus report in The Guardian (12.4.17) on a new Climate Council report which warns of the dire economic costs resulting from loss of the Great Barrier Reef's corals.

'The loss of coral reefs caused by rising sea temperatures could cost $1 trillion globally, a report from Australia’s Climate Council has projected, with the loss of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef alone costing that region 1m visitors a year, imperilling 10,000 jobs and draining $1bn from the economy.

'The longest global coral bleaching event on record, which began in 2014 and has affected some reefs in consecutive years, has given reefs little chance to recover, and should be a “wake-up call” to act to save the natural and economic assets, the Climate Council’s Lesley Hughes said.

'“The extraordinary devastation being experienced on the Great Barrier Reef is due to the warming of our oceans, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas,” Hughes said. “It would have been virtually impossible for this to have occurred without climate change.” Hughes argued it was a false dichotomy in public debate “to pit the environment against the economy”.

'“This isn’t just an environmental issue. The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s greatest economic assets. It’s responsible for bringing in more than $7bn each year to our economy, while also supporting the livelihoods of around 70,000 people. A healthy Great Barrier Reef underpins the tourism industry and the jobs that it supports.”

'The $1 trillion figure for the value of the world’s coral reefs is derived from a 2015 report led by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, which found that worldwide, reefs supported 500 million people across 50 nations.'


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