Thinking outside the reef

Peterson, Eric L., Beger, Maria, and Richards, Zoe T. (2008) Thinking outside the reef. Science, 319 (5871). p. 1759.

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A recent Review by O. Hoegh-Guldberg et al. ("Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification," 14 December 2007, p. 1737) warns that ocean acidification will compromise carbonate accretion, with accelerating functional collapse of coral reef ecosystems worldwide if atmospheric CO₂ rises above 500 parts per million. However, readers were not offered a way to prevent the demise of coral reefs.

It is imperative that resource managers and researchers promote ecologically sustainable development (ESD) on a global scale. We call on them to lead by example by investing in energy-efficient practices and sustainable forestry. The most practical means toward the goal of carbon neutrality involve buildings and forests, which are worth 22 and 14%, respectively, of necessary global CO₂ control (1).

Energy use in buildings offers the largest share of cost-effective opportunities for CO₂ mitigation, with ESD strategies such as day-lighting, improved ventilation, cool roofs, shading, and insulation (1). Sustainable forestry in coastal zones gives an added benefit to coral reefs by buffering the seaward run-off of nutrients and sediments (2). To overcome business-as-usual "paradigm blindness," resource managers, research institutions, and tourist operators who are dedicated to ecosystems at risk should use benchmarking to expose new methods, ideas, and tools (3, 4). We recommend systematic auditing and target-setting of CO₂ emissions and sinks. To save coral reefs, stakeholders must make management of CO₂ part of their core business, with the understanding that control is impossible without monitoring. Institutions need to disseminate ESD principles to the wider community—for example, by adding insulation to existing buildings and planting trees in riparian zones—to augment direct coral reef management actions such as promotion of herbivorous parrotfish.

Item ID: 25245
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: marine science, benchmarking, carbon dioxide emissions, climate change, ocean acidification, ecologically sustainably development
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2013 01:06
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060808 Invertebrate Biology @ 34%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 33%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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