The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is at this moment suffering from what is the most devastating bleaching event in recorded history, with 93% of its reefs experiencing at least some degree of bleaching. Many of these reefs will be killed permanently, and similar damage is occurring to countless other coral reef systems around the world.
And the culprit? Human caused climate change, which is increasing the temperatures of the oceans worldwide. Scientists have long warned that the mass-bleaching of coral reefs would be one of the first tipping points of climate change, and sadly we're now seeing those warnings come true.
We called up professor Justin Marshall, a coral reef expert who has been studying these ecosystems for over three decades, to learn about the damage being done, why it matters, and why our only hope for saving these wonderfully diverse eco-systems is to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible.
Justin Marshall founded a non-profit called Coral Watch where citizens help to monitor the health of coral reefs worldwide. Listen to our interview with Justin Marshall here, or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.