Professor James Crabbe of the University of Bedfordshire will attend a meeting at the Royal Society on 6 July, alongside more than 100 other invitees including Sir Nicholas Stern and Sir David Attenborough. The event is being arranged by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in response to the current crisis facing coral reefs caused by the increasingly serious impacts of climate change.
In a letter of invitation to Professor Crabbe, the Scientific Director of IPSO Alex Rogers, and the Director General of the Zoological Society of London Ralph Armond, warn that tropical reefs, directly impacted by the effects of global warming and ocean acidification, are likely to be placed into a situation of irreversible decline if immediate steps are not taken to sufficiently reduce CO2 emissions. Other Earthwatch scientists also received invitations, including Drs. Dave Smith, Dave Suggett and David Barnes from Earthwatch's coral reef ecology project in the Seychelles.
Professor Crabbe's Earthwatch-supported research in Jamaica and on the Belize barrier reef addressed impact levels on coral reefs from climate-driven bleaching and storm events.
He says, "Coral reefs are one of the major ecosystems of the world. They do not stand alone, but are linked through sea-grass beds, mangrove forests and coastal forests in a seascape-landscape system that is vital to billions of people. They are continually threatened by much human intervention - overfishing, resort development and pollution to name just three."
Professor Crabbe adds, "Climate change is potentially the most serious threat, but combined with other human-induced threats it becomes even more critical. Increased amounts of greenhouse gases result in increased global warming, while increased carbon dioxide also results in increased ocean acidification. This produces an unsustainable marine environment for our coral reefs globally, as well as for other marine creatures that build calcium carbonate skeletons. We need to work together to limit our greenhouse gas emissions so that these ecosystems will be there as long as mankind is on the earth."
The aim of the emergency meeting is to produce a statement of what the scientists believe to be a best estimate of a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere to achieve long-term sustainability of coral reef ecosystems. Supporting signatures for this statement will be gathered from the scientists and the wider community, including the public, members of non-governmental organisations and policymakers. The statement will be presented at the pivotal United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December.
An Earthwatch scientist is joining a host of fellow experts at a high-level emergency meeting to highlight the urgency of the climate change threat to coral reefs.
Measuring coral reefs in Belize.
Coral reefs are one of the major ecosystems of the world.