It's hard to know why certain chords are struck as we read or watch the continuing bad news. My tears come from thoughts of what's happening to the children in Africa today, and what's going to happen to children in a climate-wracked future.
My husband weeps and rages at the loss of the world's coral reefs. I'm not sure why. He's not a scuba diver or a snorkeler. Perhaps it's their sheer beauty. Perhaps he knows that over one quarter of the world's marine fish species depend on coral reefs as their source of shelter and food.
But last night, he read the most absurd and shocking news. This BBC report was on his screen when I found him crying at his computer:
'Freezer plan' bid to save coral
If you can't figure out what that means, join the club. The article goes on to say, "The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples to preserve them for the future."
So how is that for insanity? Spend two decades doing nothing, not calling for a climate change emergency declaration, NOT protecting the coral reefs — and then freeze them at the last minute?
Are we criminally insane as a species? Have our scientists been watching too many whacked out sci-fi movies? According to Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World, coral reefs make up less than one percent of the marine environment, but are home to 25 percent of marine biodiversity. And according to the Worldwatch Institute's Oceans in Peril online quiz, over 100,000 coral reef species are already known, named and described, but there could be as many as one to three million — all now endangered. Do we not understand that we can't live without biodiversity?
Thirty million people (the population of Canada is not much bigger) in the tropics and sub-tropics are small-scale fishers who depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods and daily sustenance. Coral reefs are a key source of food, income and coastal protection for half a billion people worldwide.
It's certainly enough to make at least one grown man cry. Isn't it tragic that scientists can come up with plans to freeze coral (to "allow them to be reintroduced to the seas in the future if global temperatures can be stabilised") but we can't come up with plans to save coral reefs. Alas, I guess not enough people care — or cry.
ADDENDUM: I just asked my husband why the coral reefs are so precious to him. "Back in the late 1980s," he said, "when we were starting to discuss this stuff, everyone knew that if the coral reefs went, the whole planet would go. Now, no one seems to care."
The coral reefs are going, folks. Do we really want to lose the whole planet, too?