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Global Warming Threatens Coral Triangle

7.9N 117.0E

May 20th, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Palawan and Balabac Islands, Philippines - May 12th, 2009

Palawan and Balabac Islands, Philippines - May 12th, 2009

Balabac Island (bottom) and the southern tip of Palawan Island (top), in the Philippines, are located on the western edge of the Coral Triange.

The Coral Triangle is a geographical term referring to an area covering more than 5.4 million square kilometers in the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste with an abundance of coral reef.

Although the Coral Triangle covers only 1% of the earth’s surface, it contains a third of all the world’s coral, and three-quarters of its coral reef species.

It is the most diverse marine environment in the world, with over 600 reef-building coral species and more than 3,000 species of fish.

The world’s most important coral region is in danger of being wiped out by the end of this century unless fast action is taken, reports the BBC.

The international conservation group WWF warns that 40% of coral reefs and mangroves in the Coral Triangle have already been lost. Problems such as pollution and the inappropriate use of coastal areas are trapping CO2 in the ocean and causing water temperatures to rise (a 0.7 degree increase in temperature has already changed water currents), thus destroying the ocean’s productivity.

If the world’s richest coral reef is destroyed, the fish that people rely on for food could be gone. In the worst-case scenario, this means that by the end of the century, 100 million people across South East Asia could be on the march, looking for something to eat, thus breaking communities apart and ruining economies.

The WWF is calling for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and better controls on fishing and coastal areas in order to avoid this worst-case scenario.

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