'It is too late to save Great Barrier Reef'

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Melbourne, Dec 14 (UNI) It is probably too late to save the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs from global warming, warns an analysis by leading marine scientists.

The report prepared by a team of 17 authors from seven nations said even if governments implement far-reaching measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, they will not be able to prevent the annihilation of coral reefs around the world.

The 7 billion dollars Great Barrier Reef tourism industry was at risk, said the lead author, professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from University of Queensland.

''With conservative estimates predicting emission levels exceeding 500 parts per million, coral reefs will dwindle into insignificance,'' the Australian quoted Professor Hoegh-Guldberg as saying today.

''These changes minimise anything that happened in the Ice Age transitions and they are happening faster than the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted.

The outlook is very grim, '' he added.

Another author of the paper, World Bank marine adviser Marea Hatziolos, said the collapse of coral reefs would destroy the livelihood of 100 million people.

Food supplies to millions more would be reduced; in Asia, reefs supply 25 per cent of fish, feeding one billion people.

The paper warns that if emissions rise to between 450 and 500 parts per million, with an associated temperature rise of 2 degree celsius by 2050 - the most optimistic outcome predicted by the landmark study by British economist Nicholas Stern - reefs will suffer ''vastly reduced habitat complexity and loss of biodiversity''.

But if they rise above 500 ppm, the minimum emission level forecast by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by 2050, reefs will become ''rapidly eroding rubble banks''.

''These changes will reduce coral reef ecosystems to crumbling frameworks with few calcareous corals. It is clear that coral reefs as we know them today would be extremely rare , ''the report warns.


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