If you are curious you will probably enjoy and learn much from a new 81-page report by Craig D. Idso on global warming and coral reefs .
The report doesn’t come to any quick conclusions, but rather, in plain English, explains how corals grow, how they can change and adapt following “coral bleaching” and why it is important to consider real-world observations rather than theoretical predictions.
Dr Idso is clearly no believer in Gaia or Medea, but rather an empiricist with a knack for explaining the complex in plain English.
His new reports conclusions include comment that:
As living entities, corals are not only acted upon by the various elements of their environment, they also react or respond to them. And when changes in environmental factors pose a challenge to their continued existence, they sometimes take major defensive or adaptive actions.
A particularly ingenious way by which almost any adaptive response to any type of environmental stress may be enhanced in the face of the occurrence of that stress would be to replace the zooxanthellae expelled by the coral host during a stress-induced bleaching episode by one or more varieties of zooxanthellae that are more tolerant of the stress that caused the bleaching.
Rising sea levels may actually have a positive effect on reefs, permitting increased coral growth in areas that have already reached the upward limit imposed by current sea levels.
The rising CO2 content of the atmosphere may induce changes in ocean chemistry (pH) that could slightly reduce coral calcification rates; but potential positive effects of hydrospheric CO2 enrichment may more than compensate for this modest negative phenomenon.
Theoretical predictions indicate that coral calcification rates should decline as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by as much as 40% by 2100. However, real-world observations indicate that elevated CO2 and elevated temperatures are having just the opposite effect.
1. CO2, Global Warming and Coral Reefs – Prospects for the Future, 2009. Science and Public Policy Institute http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/co2_coral_warming.html
Craig D. Idso received his B.S. in Geography from Arizona State University, his M.S. in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and his Ph.D. in Geography from Arizona State University. Dr. Idso has published scientific articles on issues related to data quality, the growing season, the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2, world food supplies, coral reefs, and urban CO2 concentrations, the latter of which he investigated via a National Science Foundation grant as a faculty researcher in the Office of Climatology at Arizona State University. In addition, he has lectured in Meteorology at Arizona State University, and in Physical Geography at Mesa and Chandler-Gilbert Community Colleges.
Photograph taken at the Great Barrier Reef in April 2006 by Dave.