Everybody loves Nemo, and it’s not hard to see why. Coral reefs and their animals are incredible, for multiple reasons. Coral reefs are one of the most beautiful and important ecosystems on earth- 25% of the ocean’s biodiversity can be found there, even though they cover an almost insignificant portion of the ocean.
Climate change is quickly causing these precious resources to disappear. Because the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide, the ocean becomes more acidic (the chemical reaction of the CO2 and seawater releases extra H+ ions, which defines acidity.) A side effect of this is that carbonate becomes carbonic acid. Chemistry aside, the ultimate effect is that animals such as coral no longer have the molecules they need to build their skeletons. This damages coral reefs before they can even be built.
Another climate change caused issue for the reefs is that warmer ocean temperatures kill the coral, something called “coral bleaching.” With warmer water, the algae in the coral’s tissues are rejected, essentially causing the coral animal to commit suicide. This leaves bright areas of reef pale and dead.
This is not mere speculation. In less than a century, over half of the world’s reefs have disappeared, and up to 80% in certain areas. If we want to have coral reefs in the future, we must make some serious changes about climate change.