Posted by: reefrescue | October 23, 2009

Open Letter to the US Coral Reef Task Force

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                    

REEF RESCUE                              

P.O. Box 207

Boynton Beach, Florida 33425

(561) 699-8559


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



  1. Reducing CO2 emissions starts by changing our consumption patterns: overpopulation when combined to the increasing consumption in industrialized countries is the biggest culprit.

    “Voluntary simplicity” may sound ridiculous to some in the US and abroad, but when it comes to drastically curb the lethal effect of increasing CO2 emissions, there seems to be no other way out – oh wait, there is another one: extinction – of the human race I mean…

    Thank you for your post, Ed.

    Stephan Becker
    Founder and CEO

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