When it comes to the concept of coral bleaching, many see it as a harmless trick to pull. It has become a major part of the impact of climate change, though, and has started to have a pretty significant impact on the quality of the Caribbean.
Indeed, climate change is bringing about massive coral bleaching, and the coral reef ecosystems that are so essential to Caribbean communities are being thoroughly decimated at present.
Indeed, a study in February 2019 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B scientific journal showed us just how damaging this is. Built on data taken from 30 Caribbean islands, the data that came back was startling. It showed that coral bleaching was taking place at a pretty rapid scale in various parts of the Caribbean.
Smaller islands such as Saint Barthelemy are the most likely to be impacted, while more robust nations like Jamaica look less likely to suffer such impact.
The worry, though, is that this is not going to get any better. According to Ph.D candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, Katherine Siegel: “We were surprised to find that independent islands have lower social-ecological vulnerability than territories,
“Territories—such as the Dutch islands of Sint Maarten and Saba— tend to be left out of global assessments of climate change vulnerability. But our results suggest that they need to invest in improving their ability to adapt to environmental changes.”
There should, then, be an immediate desire to do something about this. Coral bleaching leads to various problems, not least the fact it removes much of the beauty from the coral reefs. If the bleaching happens for long enough, then it will kill off a large chunk of the corals, and this could mean that the entire ecosystem in that region could become compromised.
The impact would be felt not just in the sea, but in the various communities which rely upon the sea to survive. The study shows that there are several issues at play here, and that those who are most likely to suffer from coral bleaching are those who have their entire economies and communities built around the sea around them.
The study recommends, then, that more is done to help give these communities the tools needed to look out for and then act upon any coral bleaching taking place. The sooner a solution can be put in place, the better for the wider sea community. Rest assured, though, that active work is going on to find a solution to this problem and to put an end to the growing threat of the problem.
This study, though, will hopefully help to serve as a wake-up call for anyone who wants to better understand the immense risks which are at play here. With so little time to act, let’s hope this does not just become another study consigned to the ‘we’ll deal with it later’ pile – there might not be enough time to act later.