Coral Reef Bleaching Could Cost $1T Globally

First Posted: Apr 12, 2017 05:24 AM EDT

Bleaching of coral reefs have been getting worldwide attention lately, with Australia's Great Barrier famously suffering from the phenomenon. Due to warm waters brought about by the increasing global temperatures, two-thirds of the world's greatest, most diverse marine ecosystems is now dying.

Live Science reported that on April 10, the Australian Research Council (ARC) announced that over 900 miles of the reef have been bleached in 2017. While this event does not necessarily mean corals are dead, bleaching does leave them crippled and unable to get enough nutrients to survive. The corals' color actually comes from the algae within them, called zooxanthellae, which provide them of crucial nutrients that help them remove waste. Without these algae, corals become more vulnerable to disease.

Starting in 2014 and continuing over the past three years, this has already been marked as the longest coral bleaching ever to be recorded. The increasing global temperature gave the reefs little chance to recover as well. Australia's Climate Council's Lesley Hughes said that climate change is to blame for the "extraordinary devastation being experienced on the Great Barrier Reef is due to the warming of our oceans, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas."

Being a big part of the marine ecosystem, the loss of coral reefs is something to be alarmed about. Monetary repercussions in point is it will cost the world around $1 trillion globally. Australia's Climate Council projected that the loss of the Great Barrier Reef alone could cost the Queensland region about a million visitors a year. Following the loss of tourism could cost the region about 10,000 jobs and an economy drain of about a billion dollars.

The Guardian reported that the $1 trillion figure for the losses due to coral bleaching is derived from a 2015 study. It stated that reefs supported 500 million people across 50 nations.

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