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The Great Barrier Reef is a victim of climate change – but it could be part of the solution

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Peter Thomson comment in The Guardian (26.7.21) on the impacts of climate change upon the Great Barrier Reef, arguing that healthy coral reefs lie at the heart of ocean biodiversity and a healthy planet.

‘We are fast approaching unstoppable climate change. If we don’t take drastic action to cut our global greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November, our children and grandchildren will pay dearly for this failure.

‘Already, average surface temperatures globally have risen 1.1C above the preindustrial levels of the late 1800s and limiting global warming to 1.5C is becoming increasingly challenging.

‘A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that 70 to 90% of warm water coral reefs that exist today will have disappeared by the time we reach 1.5C. At 2C, coral reefs will be vanishingly rare.

‘The sobering reality reported by the World Meteorological Organization is that on our current path, we are heading to global warming of over 3C before the end of this century.

‘This would cause irreversible damage to marine ecosystems and the ocean as a whole. Science and recent experience tell us the consequences would be catastrophic globally – this is clearly something we must avoid at all costs.’

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