According to scientists, America’s best-protected coral reefs are dying, and President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord is set to make the situation worse. When Trump announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris accord, he claimed that fighting global warming was hurting American business. As reported by the Independent, President Trump drew heat from around the globe when he said that he wanted to boost jobs in the coal industry by withdrawing from the Paris climate deal. Even the Vatican criticized Trump’s decision.
Scientists believe that the burning of fossil fuels, primarily oil and coal, is the biggest cause of the greenhouse gases that are warming both the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, President Trump claims that global warming is “fake news,” a hoax that is hurting the U.S. economy. Trump has appointed climate change deniers to senior positions in his administration, and he is rolling back legislation designed to tackle climate change.
Ironically Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement comes at a time when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] is warning that America’s coral reefs are set for further bleaching this summer. According to The Guardian, NOAA’s coral reef specialist Mark Eakin warns that coral reef bleaching is set to affect protected reefs in Hawaii, Florida, and parts of the Caribbean this summer.
What Causes Coral Reef Bleaching, And Why Does It Matter?
Coral reef bleaching is believed to be caused by rises in sea temperatures. When coral reefs are bleached, they are dying. High ocean temperatures cause the coral to expel the symbiotic algae that provides it with food and color. If the ocean temperature doesn’t return to normal, the coral reef dies. With the oceans absorbing more than 90 percent of the extra heat generated by greenhouse gases, over 70 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been affected by bleaching.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been badly affected by bleaching along over two-thirds of its 1,400-mile length; a situation that could see the death of one of the planet’s natural wonders. Now the Council for Foreign Relations is warning that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord could be “catastrophic’ for America’s coral reefs.
Scientists have pointed out that America’s main reefs, found off Hawaii, Florida, Guam, and Puerto Rico, are facing an “unheralded disaster.” If the rise in sea temperatures continues, all of America’s coral reefs could be dead within 20 years. According to the Sun Sentinel, NOAA did at least have some good news. NOAA believes that this summer may prove to be a little cooler than the last three. That may offer the coral reefs a little respite, and the opportunity to stage some sort of recovery from the global bleaching event that has taken place over the last three years.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the respite will last, and Trump’s decision to rely on fossil fuels could easily bring that respite to a swift end.
[Featured Image by Michael Sohn/AP]