Monday, December 1, 2008

Would you care if coral reefs disappeared forever?

You just might care after the fact. But that doesn't count. What matters is right now and seeing what can be done right now to save coral reefs before they are gone forever. The Miami Herald printed an article yesterday that outlines, in depth, what is happening to the reefs along Southern Florida. This is the same situation for all the world's reefs.

Climate change and pollution are wrecking havoc on a part of our environment, coral reefs, that require a delicate balance of nature. The greenhouse gases (from cars, power plants, livestock, and other sources) that raise our earth's temperature also raise the ocean's temperature -- not good for coral. And the world's oceans also absorb much of the excess carbon dioxide -- again, destroys coral. With weakened coral, when hurricanes come the reefs are bashed into bits that never recover. It's like brittle bone disease that breaks easily.

Environmental Defense Fund and two University of Miami scientists have released a report detailing more about this crisis -- ''Corals and Climate Change: Florida's Natural Treasures at Risk."

WHAT YOU CAN DO: For this type of issue, there are 3 main things you can do that will have impact in saving what we can of the coral reefs --

1) Write your federal representatives (current president, president elect, senators, and congressman) and tell them that you are concerned. Express to them BRIEFLY a) why you care and b) that you want MUCH stricter emission requirements for cars and power plants that would be at levels the scientists say would roll back global warming. Additionally, ask your representatives to add further protections to coral reef regions -- currently, as the Miami Herald article points out, the surrounding ocean areas that are part of the reefs' larger ecosystem are not protected.

2) Reduce your car's emissions. The best way to do that is to buy a new vehicle that is either ZEV, PZEV, or AT-PZEV. ZEV means zero emissions vehicle, which is expected to come with fuel cell and electric vehicles in the near future. PZEV means partial zero emissions vehicle, which means the vehicle has very low emissions. AT-PZEV means Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle, which means that the vehicle is not only going to give you really low emissions but also higher fuel efficiency.

3) Buy into renewable and clean power options with your utility company. Although clean-burning coal has been talked about as an option, the Natural Resources Defense Council states that there is no such thing and that coal mining and burning has devastating effects on our environment. Most utility companies now have an option that, for a very small fee (usually a couple of dollars), you can buy into co-op's that purchase solar or wind power. Solar or wind power produces no emissions. This is good for the planet.

4) Eat less meat. Livestock are a major contributor to greenhouse gas production. Eat less meat and you will be making a significant contribution to less greenhouse gases.

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