Back-to-back bleaching events

NOVA did an episode last year on coral reef bleaching and attempts to speed up the evolution of heat-resistant corals.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been hit by widespread coral bleaching repeatedly in recent years, where marine heat waves have turned large parts of the reef a ghostly white.

Back-to-back bleaching events are expected to become more common as the climate gets hotter, but it’s happening sooner than expected in Australia – a worrying sign that the vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are at risk of disappearing.

“Climate change is a whole host of bad things for corals,” says Emily Darling, director of coral reef conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “If they’re getting bleached and dying off every year or two years, there’s simply not enough time in between these massive bleaching events for coral reefs to have any chance at meaningful recovery.”

And that’s extremely bad news.

A quarter of marine species depend on coral reefs at some point in their lives, as do millions of people who depend on reefs for food, jobs and shoreline protection from storm surges.

This isn’t down the road a piece, this is now. Yet we continue to shrug and drive around in our SUVs.

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