re-sized maldive underwater signing

Scuba diving has a bleak future…

That title is a bit misleading… of course you will always be able to scuba dive – but what you’ve gone into the ocean to look at might not have such a bright future.

So concerned are they by the threat of global warming that Maldive government officials donned scuba gear on 17th October to draw the world’s attention to it one more time.

As a publicity stunt they held an underwater meeting amidst pristine coral, to highlight the threat global warming poses to the world’s lowest-lying nation – it will disappear if global warming continues at the rate it is at the moment.

Maldives cabinet holds meeting underwater

The Maldivian cabinet held a meeting underwater to highlight the need for action on climate change

During the meeting, conducted mainly by writing on white boards and using hand signals, Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed signed a document asking all countries to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions, prior to the U.N. climate change conference scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

Now, you might think this all a little dramatic and possibly even far-fetched, but it is the bleak future we are leaving to our children if we don’t wake up to this fact now…

Coral is an excellent indicator of climate change, and they are on the brink of collapse.

Are you a keen scuba-diver? and is this pretty much what you hope to see when you slip into the ocean and fin towards a coral reef…

File:Blue Linckia Starfish.JPG

If we’re not careful, our favourite hobby will feature scenes more like this one… some of you might already have seen reefs like this…

File:Coral-reef-bioerosion.jpg

Coral reefs are the most diverse and beautiful of all marine habitats.

It is not unusual for a reef to have several hundred species of snails, sixty species of corals, and several hundred species of fish. Of all ocean habitats, reefs seem to have the greatest development of complex symbiotic associations.

Coral reefs are valuable eco-systems that we will not be able to rebuild. They save the world billions of dollars annually by acting as natural sea defenses. Reefs also earn in the region of $30 billion a year for local economies from tourism. Quite apart from this about 500 million people worldwide depend on the reefs for their food. That’s a lot of people who will need aid if reefs collapse.

Globally, coral reefs are under threat from climate change, ocean acidification, overuse of reef resources, and harmful land-use practices. High nutrient levels such as those found in runoff from agricultural areas and industry can harm reefs by encouraging excess algae growth.

Ascidian Overgrowing Coral

Even touching coral can harm them.

Any rise in the sea level due to climate change would effectively ask coral to grow faster to keep up. That’s problem number one.

Secondly, water temperature changes can be very disturbing to the coral. This was seen during the 1998 and 2004 El Niño weather phenomena, in which sea surface temperatures rose well above normal, bleaching or killing many coral reefs. In the event of a 2°C temperature increase, it is thought that coral would not be able to adapt quickly enough either physiologically or genetically.

Perhaps my title isn’t that misleading after all. If either of the two above phenomenon occur there will be very little “wow” factor for us scuba divers to admire. Look at that second photograph – how could we possibly allow that to disappear?

If you feel strongly enough about this topic you should contact an organisation called Avaaz (the word means ‘voice’ in many languages). They are a not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. They are campaigning fiercely for the world to wake-up to the reality of global warming and to finally do something constructive at the Copenhagen talks in December – before it’s too late:

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