A newly published study of coral reefs finds coral populations are staggeringly large and extremely unlikely to face extinction pressures anytime in the foreseeable future. The peer-reviewed study by scientists who had previously promoted alarm about coral populations deals a major blow to alarmist climate change campaigns that corals are on the verge of extinction.
The new study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, documents that there are more than 500 billion coral colonies in the southwestern Pacific Ocean alone. Still more corals and coral colonies exist throughout tropical and warm-water seas throughout the world.
The new study is the first to measure the number of corals in a large region. The new study observes that prior speculation by scientists and others that corals are in danger of extinction was based on “qualitative expert opinion” – in other words, speculative guesstimates.
The documentation of so many coral colonies blows away recent coral alarmism. According to the authors, “Remarkably, of the 80 species in our analysis that are considered by the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] to have an elevated extinction risk (listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered), 12 have estimated population sizes exceeding 1 billion colonies.”
“Our population size estimates inform and refine earlier estimates of extinction risk in Indo-Pacific corals, which relied heavily on qualitative expert opinion. In particular, our findings call into question earlier inferences that a considerable proportion (one-quarter) of the estimated Indo-Pacific coral species could go globally extinct with the next few decades,” the authors report.
The authors explain that their estimates of coral population size “are several orders of magnitude larger than sizes that would put them at risk of global extinction.” In other words, global corals would not be at risk of extinction even if there were only 10 percent as many corals as there actually are.
Even under speculative assertions that coral populations have been in accelerated decline in recent decades, “such rates of decline would nevertheless require centuries to reduce the population sizes of most Indo-Pacific coral species to levels at which global extinction risk becomes a substantial risk, even if one assumes that a decline of this magnitude has already occurred.”
Prior to the new study being published, climate activists and their media allies made coral reefs a poster child for the asserted climate crisis.
For example, CNN in February 2020 published an article claiming, “About 70-90% of all existing coral reefs are expected to disappear in the next 20 years due to warming oceans, acidic water and pollution.”
Also, the Asean Post published a 2019 article – which appears prominently in Google search results for coral reefs – titled “Coral Reefs Are Facing Extinction.”
Those articles were inspired in part by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) erroneously claiming, “Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius [from preindustrial times, which the UN claims is likely to occur within 20 years], whereas virtually all (>99 percent) would be lost with 2 degrees Celsius [which the UN claims is likely to occur by 2060].”
The good news reported in the new study, in addition to falsifying those alarmist claims, amplifies what science has already discerned about the status of corals and coral reefs. As reported in Climate at a Glance: Coral Reefs, “Coral require warm water, not cold water, to live. Coral cannot live outside of tropical or subtropical waters. As Earth continues to modestly warm, coral are extending their range toward the poles while still thriving at and near the equator. The primary reasons for bleaching events include sediment pollution from nearby coastal lands, chemicals found in sunscreen, and cold temperature events. Coral have existed continuously for the past 40 million years. Coral survived and thrived when temperatures were significantly warmer than they are today.”
Coral extinction crisis canceled.