I’ve spent much of my entire life in oceans. It’s what most underwater photographers perform, the serious ones . It’s my favourite part of the job. The sea has always felt like home for me. When I was a kid, I was able to splash around in the English shore and pretend that I was Jacques Cousteau. I wanted to explore concealed areas and discover fantastic new species. Submarines seemed far more magical than spaceships.
As a teen, I began scuba diving. Now this was a true eye-opener. Suddenly, all those stunning corals and exotic fishes from my favourite books were there in front of me. I was in their world. I still remember the sensation of taking my first breath underwater. My whole body was tingling with this intense joy, a nearly inexplicable sense of sheer wonder — I’d found heaven.
Today, paradise is perishing.
More specifically, our coral reefs are now dying. Back in 2016 alone, we dropped nearly 30 percent of the Great Barrier Reef, the location I dreamed of in my youth. The issue isn’t restricted to one nation, area, or even continent. Over the past thirty Decades, roughly half of the world’s coral has expired.
I watched this firsthand whilst creating Chasing Coral, a Netflix Original Documentary that has just been published. It was the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. For over three years, our group of divers, scientists, and photographers committed ourselves to a single task: documenting the life and death of our world’s coral reefs.
We invested over 650 hours underwater. Sometimes we would spend months in a single location, seeing in somber silence as the seascape changed daily. Lush coral gardens, rich with colour and life, seemed to vanish overnight. The fossilized boneyards they left behind still haunt those of us who swam through them.
But what had been killing the monkeys? Scientists were baffled for years, until they discovered a devilishly simple response: the oceans were becoming too sexy. Corals are resilient creatures, just adapted to their environment. But their environment has changed and it’s killing them.
Many folks remain skeptical. Climate change has been a dreaded political issue, and even when one accepts the fact that Earth’s temperatures are affected by human action, the fluctuations thus far appear quite small. How much of an effect does an increase of a few levels actually make?
Imagine you have a fever. Your normal body temperature is roughly 98.6 F / 36.1 C, however, it climbs to 100.6 F / 37.1 C. You truly feel pretty miserable, so you go to the doctor. They give you the normal advice, “Drink loads of fluids, take an aspirin, get some rest. Let me know if anything changes” You go home, expecting to feel much better soon.
A week after, you are still feverish. A month later, and there’s still no relief. Your temperature just keeps climbing.
How long would you wait to call the doctor?
You would not wait quite long, obviously, since you would be dead if you’d like. The warning signs are too obvious to ignore. Your life is valuable and thus you’d do whatever was necessary to store it. We need to be equally protective of our oceans, and also our corals in particular–a little rise in temperature could be fatal.
Even the Paris climate arrangement proved to be a enormous step in the ideal direction. Its goal is obvious: to restrict the growth of global temperatures to a maximum of 3.6F/2 C above pre-industrial amounts, along with a goal of 2.7F/1.5 C.
It’s white and black to get coral reefs: Paris or break. If we fulfill with the Paris goal, we could save enough coral reefs to allow them to bounce back, if we don’t, we will lose them entirely. It’s that simple. We’ll get rid of an ecosystem that offers food, occupations, and protection for about a billion people around the planet and supports a quarter of all sea life.
There’s hope for coral reefs. We are leading an initiative called 50 Reefs that has received an outpouring of assistance by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, along with the Tiffany & Co.. Foundation. Its goal is to catalyze efforts to protect coral reefs internationally – rapidly strengthening conservation attempts in key locations that are not as vulnerable to climate change. But hope depends upon us fulfilling the Paris goal.
I’m still haunted by what I found throughout the making of Chasing Coral. The gorgeous underwater gardens whom I recall from my youth are evaporating. My heaven is perishing. The folks who have lived off their bounty for decades are losing their livelihoods and their futures. That is true, this is happening right now, and in the present political climate there are many people who refuse to admit this. I challenge some skeptic to see this film and to remain unconvinced and unmoved.
Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com