A new report issued last week by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network found that if current trends regarding emissions of carbon dioxide continue, a majority of the world's remaining coral reefs could be lost within just four decades. So far, some 19 percent of the world's coral reefs have been "bleached out" as a result of global warming and related environmental maladies.Still, the group believes that 45 percent of the world's reefs remain healthy. Also, research has shown that some reefs are able to recover after major bleaching events and even adapt to climate change threats. But if emissions continue unabated, the world's reefs may not get the chance to recover, affecting more than 500 million people—not to mention countless marine organisms—who depend on them for their livelihoods.
"The report details the strong scientific consensus that climate change must be limited to the absolute minimum," said Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network Coordinator Clive Wilkinson. "If nothing is done to substantially cut emissions, we could effectively lose coral reefs as we know them, with major coral extinctions."