First Global Exinction of a Worldwide Ecosystem Since 65 MYA:

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Within 50-100 years, there might not be any coral left on the planet, so efforts are underway to freeze samples of coral in the hopes that maybe future generations care enough to resurrect the ecosystem:

Now the problem is that even if we have some of the coral, what about the millions of arthorpods, fish, sponges, mollusks, cnidarians, and countless other genera that rely on coral? I think that this thing is basically just a publicity stunt, to tell you the truth - having a few frozen coral embryos isn't going to bring it back, but having better maritime laws and aquatic national parks might go a long way towards helping the reefs.

I mean, we are all about saving the rainforest, so why don't we give more of a damn about the aquatic version? I think that the only two nations on the planet that have labeled underwater ecosystems as protected are the United States and Australia, and Australia has only done so within the last few years (I hope I'm wrong about that, but those are the only two places that I've ever heard of). We should get on this! Just because we aren't a species of fish, doesn't mean coral isn't an important part of our world. For example, most of the photosynthesis on the planet happens to be done by coral, and corals are a great carbon sink as their exoskeleton is made from calcium carbonate. They preserve islands by growing protective rings around them to slow down erosion. The biomedical research potential is enormous - there are far more species with potential pharmaceutical value in the oceans than there is on land, far far more.

So, what can be done? How do we save the corals?
2 ATC17th Dec 2011 10:05:37 AM from The Library of Kiev
Was Aliroz the Confused
First, I think we should try to fix the silt problem. Silt is a large part of the problem, but it would be simple and easy to prevent most of the silt from getting into the ocean.

You see, Silt suffocates coral and gets into the ocean through rivers. Usually, riverside tree roots form a sort of net that catches the silt and thereby stops it from getting to the ocean. However, those same tree roots block boats and cause large buildup of silt in said rivers; so people have cut riverside trees from many of the most widely-travelled rivers.

If we could make filters to catch the silt, we could clean said filters (thus preventing silt buildup in the rivers), and we could probably make some way for the filters to not obstruct boating.

edited 17th Dec '11 10:11:12 AM by ATC

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3 Enthryn17th Dec 2011 02:13:26 PM from Earth , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Species go extinct all the time; the vast majority of species that ever existed are now extinct. It's inevitable, and it only becomes a problem when too many species go extinct at once, particularly vital species go extinct, or something else that's particularly disruptive to the global ecosystem happens.

So, just saving the corals is thinking too small-scale. We have to address the underlying problem, which is that the massive increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, driven by human activities, is causing systemic destabilization of the environment. Increase in surface temperature, ocean acidification, desertification, disruptions in weather patterns, and amplification of positive feedbacks all stem from this.

If we manage to bring carbon dioxide levels back down, the CO2 concentration in the oceans will also decrease, reducing their acidity and resolving the main problem for coral ecosystems. The situation for rainforests is similar: If we don't address the problem of carbon dioxide emissions, the rainforests will become desert anyway.

edited 17th Dec '11 2:14:55 PM by Enthryn

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Well shit, if the coral reefs dying off does cause mass scale extinction, we're pretty screwed.
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