Representatives from ZSL’s Conservation and Living Collections teams on Thursday participated in the launch of the Reefs at Risk Revisited report launch.
In the 10 years since the first Reefs at Risk analysis, threats have increased by 30 percent. This includes recent impacts from climate change which causes rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.
The most immediate and direct threats arise from local sources, which currently threaten more than 60 percent of reefs (about 150,000 sq km of reefs). Local threats include overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development and pollution.
Unless steps are taken to reduce local pressure and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, the percent of threatened reefs will increase to more than 90% by 2030 and to nearly all reefs by 2050.
The report identifies 27 nations most vulnerable to coral reef degradation and loss in the world (of 108 reef countries assessed). The nine coun¬tries most vulnerable to the effects of coral reef degradation, due to high dependence on coral reefs and low adaptive capacity, are: Haiti, Grenada, Philippines, Comoros, Vanuatu, Tanzania, Kiribati, Fiji, and Indonesia.
The report makes 60 recommendations for action. ZSL’s coral reef conservation efforts respond to many of these, including supporting and implementing effective marine protected areas (in Chagos and the Philippines through Project Seahorse), building conservation and management capacity in coral reef nations (EDGE Corals, Project Seahorse), supporting the most vulnerable countries (e.g. Philippines through Project Seahorse) and influencing policy (Climate Change programme; GLOBE Action Plan for Coral Reefs).
The report was led by the World Resources Institute, along with the Nature Conservancy, the WorldFish Center, ICRAN, UNEP-WCMC, and GCRMN. One of the report’s authors, Dr Allison Perry, is a former member of the Project Seahorse team.
The full report can be downloaded at http://pdf.wri.org/reefs_at_risk_revisited.pdf
The editorial of Church of England newspaper
‘It is savage irony that Haiti was the richest agrarian economy for her Spanish and French slave masters, producing immense wealth from its sugar plantations as well as goldmines. Haiti is indeed a stain on the conscience of the West.’
Haiti’s earthquake have put the country into the headlines, of course for all the ‘wrong’ reasons. But it has raised many questions and issues that needed to be asked; more than the answers, our discussions, deliberations and ethical responses are what are important.
Haiti seems to be one of those countries, like many other Carribean and Pacific islands, refereed in case studies of primary or high school geography. Though I am a geographer, I knew near-t0-nothing about Haiti. Before, of course, the earthquake made it front page news. Are we, using this tragedy, to understand from the past and learn to better assist in helping the Haitians themsleves shape their own future.
A quick check regarding background:
‘The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation.’ http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blchaiti.htm
So what now? What should be done?
* The world, esp the US and the West needs to assist Haiti – with aid food, water, medicines now; with medium and long term support of the economic and political structures.
* Tourism is vital for the island - see Simon Calder’s aricle below.
* The west needs to work with the future Haiti government, to help it to realise its own, very real potential.
Simon Calder In The Independent this week
Guilt makes awkward baggage for the holidaymaker. From self-reproach about the impact on the planet of a flight to the sunshine, to the twinge of remorse about supporting human rights abuses by visiting China, many of us would prefer to leave our consciences at home. But in a part of the world that has fallen victim to a humanitarian disaster, should the very notion of tourism be abhorrent? One in five respondents to an online poll conducted yesterday by CruiseCritic appears to think so. They described the return to Haiti’s Labadee Beach of cruise ships as “in poor taste”.
Now, from an ethical perspective you can criticise cruise lines for reducing tourism to a caricature. A vessel the size of a housing estate drifts around the Caribbean, her kitchens serving up absurd quantities of food in a region where many go hungry. She destabilises communities by delivering thousands of visitors at the start of the day then scooping them up before dark, before embarking on the next futile arc in the never-ending circle of indulgence.
In The Times online
‘As rescue efforts work around the clock to pull survivors from the rubble, geologists around the world have put their day-to-day calculations and lab meetings on hold and are already sifting through seismic data collected at the time of last night’s earthquake in Haiti.
This isn’t a case of clinical academic curiosity. Predicting what is likely to happen in the next hours and days is vital for a well run rescue operation. Following an earthquake of this magnitude, aftershocks are to be expected and people in the region will need to know where, when and what size tremors they face.
The magnitude of the quake (7.0 on the Richter scale), which occurred at 21.53 GMT, was not extraordinary. But it’s proximity to Port-au-Prince – 15km (10 miles) – and that it occurred at such a shallow depth - 8km (5 miles) - were a unusually destructive combination. “Closeness to the surface is a major factor contributing to the severity of ground shaking caused by an earthquake of any given magnitude. Furthermore, shaking tends to be greatest directly above the source,” said Dr David Rothery, a planetary scientist at the Open University.
MY VIEW: Scientists with instrumentation may appear ‘absent-minded professor-types’ but their work and awareness is not only vital to understanding of the Earth, but how and when it is safe to respond the very real and tragic consequences such as Haiti’s earthquake.
Excerpts from The Times online: http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2010/01/haiti-earthquake-scientists-and-rescue-workers-1.html
‘The reasons for depth being an issue are twofold. First, the energy from the quake spreads out in a spherical wave into the surrounding area, meaning the closer you are to the source, the less dissipated the force. Second, deeper beneath the earths surface the temperature and pressure is so great that the rocks bend and squash rather than rupturing. An analogy can be made with toffee – it bends when its warm but shatters when cold.
The earthquake was caused by a similar type of movement that occurs on the San Andreas fault: A sideways slip occurred on a fault that marks part of the northern edge of the Caribbean Plate and the North American Plate. Geologist Chris Rowan illustrates the tectonics in this posting on the Highly Allochthonous blog. http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2010/01/tectonics_of_the_haiti_earthqu.php
A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti this evening, causing extensive damage to the capital, Port-au-Prince, and probably causing many casualties. The map below shows where the main shock occurred (red), as well as the epicentres of the numerous aftershocks (orange) that occurred in the following 5 or 6 hours (and continue even as I write).