The US Coral Reef Task Force is scheduled to meet in Puerto Rico from October 30 to November 5, to discuss US coral management policies. The letter below presents Reef Rescue comments for that meeting.
Palm Beach County
P.O. Box 207
Boynton Beach, Florida 33425
October 16, 2009
Comments/Recommendations to the US Coral Reef Task Force Regarding coral reef management policy
Today the global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is 387 parts per million (ppm). Credible climatology models suggest a level of 400 ppm may be reached by 2015 and 450 ppm is likely to occur between 2030 and 2040. Carbon dioxide concentrations over 400 ppm are projected to increase seawater temperatures to the point where mass coral bleaching events have potential to become an annual occurrence.
As carbon dioxide levels increase and seawater alkalinity decreases corals will be increasingly stressed as the synergistic effects of elevated temperature and reduced skeletal calcification capacity result in the decline of coral health leading to increased incidence of coral disease and reef degradation. We can already see the effects of elevated carbon dioxide at the ecosystem level.
If we continue to emit carbon dioxide at the present rate, the worst years of past mass bleaching may become the norm by 2030. With the current business-as-usual governmental policies it is not unreasonable that we may be facing severe coral reef depletion by 2030 or even as early as 2020 from the effects of carbon emissions.
If we do not have a drastic reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide and a return to a level of 350 ppm, by the middle of the century ocean acidification is likely to severely impact global coral reef development with resulting economic impacts, societal disruption and human tragedy.
By comparison all other coral reef management programs become moot if policy makers are unable to limit carbon emissions. Therefore, it is our recommendation that the US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) embark upon an aggressive initiative to educate the public and governmental leaders about the importance of coral reefs and their susceptibility to the already excessive carbon dioxide concentrations.
Further, we request USCRTF communicate with the Obama administration and provide guidance to enable the US to take a leadership role at the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit and to help craft a carbon emission policy that will achieve coral reef sustainability.
Ed Tichenor, Director
Palm Beach County Reef Rescue
To monitor, preserve and protect the coral reef ecosystem of South Florida through
research, education and public aware