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December 10, 2008

Global Warming killing Coral Reefs

ENVIRONMENT - The world has lost nearly one-fifth of its coral reefs and much of the rest could be destroyed by increasingly acidic seas if climate change continues unchecked. Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which fuels global warming, is raising the temperature of the oceans, according to Olof Linden of the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden who spoke at a global conference today.

Acidic water destroys reef-building coral which relies on calcification to build their shells.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says global warming and the rising temperature of the oceans are the latest and most serious threats to coral, already damaged by destructive fishing methods and pollution. "The world has lost about 19 per cent of its coral reefs during the last 20 years," said IUCN's director general, Julia Marton-Lefevre, on the sidelines of the 190-country UN talks on a new climate change treaty.

"If current trends in carbon dioxide emission continue, many of the remaining reefs will be lost in the next 20 to 40 years," she told reporters. "Climate change must be limited to the absolute minimum if we want to save coral reefs. We need to move forward and substantially cut emissions."

A report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network says all the world's coral reefs could be considered threatened if current forecasts from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and coral reef experts prove accurate.

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