Two recent reports on the state of the world’s coral reefs appear to contradict each other. But which is right?

Over the last six weeks, scientists have published two major reports on coral reef resilience that appear to contradict each other. The first – “Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs” was produced by 39 scientists led by Professor Josh Cinner of James Cook University in Australia and drew on data from 6000 reef surveys from all over the world. Cinner et al concluded that those reefs that were sustainably managed had a much better chance of withstanding bleaching impacts related to global warming and periodic climate events like El Niño. The second however suggested remote coral reefs not subject to human stressors like overfishing or pollution were faring no better than those close to populated areas and that ecosystems management made no real difference to the overall health of reefs. So which is right?

“Coral reef degradation is not correlated with local human population density,” by Professor John Bruno and co-author Abel Valdivia of the University of North Carolina was published on 20 July. It suggests that contrary to prevailing scientific opinion, local pressures do not act synchronously with global stressors (most notably warming) and that their impact on reefs is negligible. According to Valdivia “Widespread arguments that coral reef degradation is mostly caused by local factors are unsupported. We found the problem is better explained by global impacts such as climate change.”

Continue reading…
Source: Guardian Environment